Cardiff v Swansea: Slow-burner in store for South Wales derby


CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Sunday's derby dust-up between Cardiff and Swansea in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff v Swansea | Sunday 12th January 2020, 12:00 | Sky Sports

The South Wales derby is your Sunday lunchtime viewing from the Championship this weekend, a game which is so often full of tension and high stakes. Swansea went into the weekend occupying the final play-off position, whilst Cardiff were clinging onto a top-half spot, some four points behind their rivals.

Both head into this following FA Cup ties last weekend where both fielded much changed XI’s. Cardiff just about avoided an upset when coming from behind to force a replay with Carlisle, whilst Swansea endured a day to forget at Loftus Road when crumbling to a 5-1 loss.

One thing we can say about the Neil Harris version of Cardiff is that they are generally hard to beat. Only Brentford and Queens Park Rangers have defeated them since the former Millwall boss took the gig, although that QPR setback was a hefty 6-1 loss in their most recent Championship match. A big derby clash could be the perfect tonic for them to try and get back on track.

All season long, the Cardiff City Stadium has been a difficult place for opponents to come. Only Bristol City has managed to depart with maximum points, in what was Neil Warnock’s final clash in charge. The Bluebirds are on a three of three consecutive frustrating home draws, but only Preston and Fulham have won more home Championship games this season going into this round of fixtures compared to Cardiff.

Swansea also suffered a recent heavy loss to QPR and will be eager to put the record straight and get back on track. They did enjoy an earlier season triumph over Cardiff when they last met, which was the first meeting of these two outfits since 2014. That fact alone just proves how this South Wales Derby is something of an event given how infrequently it is played out.

Trust me, this is a big deal to the Welsh people.

Steve Cooper’s side have been slowly getting back into their groove following a period of six without a win. They’ve won three of their past five Championship clashes, with their last two victories being 1-0. They did hold the longest unbeaten EFL away record until West Brom ended that last month, and they’ve since been to Brentford and lost, too. They’ve won one of their last six away in all competitions, and a trip to Cardiff, as we’ve said, is never routine.

Some will argue Swansea have been over-performing this season. Going into this weekend, they are placed 16th in terms of Expected Goals (xG), which is some 10 places above their actual league positioning. Cardiff are roughly where they should be in terms of the opportunities they’ve created, but Cardiff actually have six more goals, whilst Swansea have conceded ten more. Those numbers may surprise plenty, myself included.

As mentioned, this is a big event in the Welsh footballing calendar and it is likely to be a nervy affair, and QPR bashing both of these teams recently may have a thing to do with that! Even so, it is a match neither will want to lose. A draw wouldn’t be a disaster for either, but Cardiff being at home will look to be positive, even if recent home performances have been a little lacklustre.

I don’t see too many goals and Under 2.5 Goals (99/100) looks a pretty nailed on call in my eyes. Four of the last five head-to-head meetings finished 1-0 either way, and this is a game both will be more than aware of making a high profile error that could be so costly. Four of Cardiff’s last five at home has contained U2.5, whilst Swansea haven’t scored more than once in an away match since November.

I think the Half Time Draw (6/5) has to be of interest as well. Fifteen of 26 of Swansea’s Championship clashes this season has seen them level at half-time, which is the joint-highest in the division along with Birmingham. Half of Cardiff’s home matches have been all-square at the interval, too, with them losing only one at the break in front of their own fans.

This could be a slow-burner, as I really don’t see many risks being taken.

Best Bets

Cardiff v Swansea – Under 2.5 Goals (99/100 Marathon)

Cardiff v Swansea – Half Time Draw (6/5 Sport Nation)

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Since leaving university I've worked as a Research/Football Performance/Betting Analyst. I live and breath all things football. This has gradually helped me with my betting when looking for value and ultimately, winning selections. I've experienced both the bad, and more recently, the good supporting Lincoln City, with whom my weekends aren't the same without.

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