Cardiff Vs Stoke (match preview)
Stoke City are the visitors to Ninian Park on the opening game of the Championship season. Both Cardiff City and the Potters were play-off challengers last season but have differing aspirations this time around.
Cardiff have strengthened on the whole during the pre-season. Although losing Michael Chopra came as a big blow, Steve MacLean and Robbie Fowler will both get goals. Trevor Sinclair looks good and the youngsters Gunter, Blake and Ramsey have all enjoyed pre-season involvement. The pre-season has been promising, leaking 4 goals at Stockport was disappointing but on the whole the team has gelled well, and have been creating chances. Good wins against Vitoria De Setubal and FC Twente were the highlights and included the stronger Cardiff sides. Turnbull, Rae, Capaldi, MacLean, Fowler are all expected to make their full debut.
In contrast, Stoke City appear to be weaker than last term. They have lost the loan might of Fortune, Griffin and Lee Hendrie while other notable departures include expensive flop Sammy Bangoura, Martin Paterson and important defender Carl Hoefkens. The Potters have brought in former Cardiff target Jon Parkin, a powerful frontman and Richard Cresswell to support Riccardo Fuller and ex-Swansea City man Mama Sidebe. Stephen Wright has also joined on loan from Sunderland.
Stoke finished 8th last season after mounting a late push, but ultimately just missing out on a play-off place. They thrashed us 3-0 in one game in a fraught match where Stephen McPhail was dismissed, Lee Hendrie angering Dave Jones in the process.
Both sides will be looking for a good start to the season, it's great to be starting at home (for once!) and hopefully we can come away with the win against a Stoke City side still going through changes and not yet looking full strength. We also welcome a Cardiff City supporter to Ninian Park in Stoke City boss Tony Pulis.
Vital Cardiff predicts a semi-comfortable 2-0 win for the Bluebirds in front of a big crowd. You can see other fans thoughts and leave your predictions here.
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