Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bluebirds Won't Be Caught - Friend

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bluebirds Won't Be Caught - Friend

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil Cameron

GEORGE Friend admits he was surprised by the ugly manner in which Cardiff City beat Middlesbrough earlier this season.

In stark contrast, the defender is anything but shocked that tomorrow's visitors to the Riverside look destined to be playing Premier League football next season.

Friend and his team-mates' style may be far more pleasing on the eye, but it is not winning football matches at this moment in time, and truly that is all that matters when the prize is so great.

The Welsh outfit are eight points ahead of Watford and Hull, who sit second and third respectively, and only a major collapse would stop them winning promotion in May.

A win for Boro, and a much-needed victory it would be at that, might make Cardiff's task more difficult, but Friend believes that tomorrow he will be facing the eventual winners of this season's Championship.

And he knows the reasons for this. Friend said: "Cardiff have a very solid back four. I think they've had the same back four, bar one or two games, for the whole of the season. That makes a big difference. Most successful teams keep continuity in that area of the field and that's a big thing for them.

"They are a counter-attacking side. They remind me of QPR when they went up a few seasons ago in that when they score, they don't really let anyone through. I think that's what they're about.

"Cardiff are not particularly pretty.

"When we played them at their place, I was really surprised how little football they actually played and how direct they were. I definitely feel confident that we can beat them on Saturday. And Cardiff are the team to beat in our league, really.

"When we played down at their place, we were the better side to be brutally honest, but they did what they've been doing all season.

"They scored the goal and then banked up to hit us on the break. I'm sure that's how they'll do it at the weekend, play on the counter-attack.

"We know we can match them, if not be better than them, and we'll look to do that on Saturday."

Friend and Middlesbrough can take some comfort from their performance against Chelsea in Wednesday's FA Cup tie, as in the first half they more than matched their opponents. …

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