Preview: Cartagena vs. Birmingham City 

Preview: Cartagena vs. Birmingham City 

Birmingham City ramp up their preparations for the new season at the end of a week-long training camp when they face Cartagena at the Pinatar Arena on Friday night.

Blues travelled abroad following their success over neighbours Solihull Moors on Saturday, while Cartagena are turning out for their first fixture of the summer.

Cartagena begin their pre-season schedule after finishing ninth in La Liga 2 last term, equalling their standing during the 2021-22 term previously.

Luis Carrion’s men ended up nine points behind sixth-placed Albacete in the final playoff spot, and a run of five matches without a maximum at the end of the campaign eliminated any chance of an unlikely promotion push.

It was a story of veteran forwards for Cartagena last term, with 32-year-olds Alfredo Ortuno and Armando Sadiku bagging nine and eight goals respectively for Ephese, with the latter since moving to Indian club Mohun Bagan.

With the club only founded 27 years ago, Carrion is looking to guide Cartagena to their first-ever spell in the top flight of Spanish football, although they face competition from some huge clubs in escaping the second tier.

Birmingham City are no strangers to top-flight football over the course of their history, but the Second City club are now gearing up for their 13th straight campaign in the Championship.

A 17th-placed finish last season represented a steady start for former Queens Park Rangers assistant John Eustace on the Blues managerial hotseat, with the club tipped last summer to endure their first relegation to League One this century.

While a takeover of the West Midlands side by American businessman Tom Wagner draws close to completion, the task for the footballing staff at Birmingham is to prepare a squad which has lost its core during the off-season.

A reliance on loans during the 2022-23 season means that Blues no longer have Hannibal Mejbri, Dion Sanderson, Auston Trusty and Reda Khadra as they prepare for their second-tier opener on August 5 – four players who comfortably made the team’s starting XI last term.

The Second City club were able to re-sign Derby County enforcer Krystian Bielik permanently following a loan spell at St Andrew’s last season, with Ethan Laird and Tyler Roberts other names to come through the metaphorical door in the West Midlands.

Birmingham City friendly form:

We say: Cartagena 1-1 Birmingham City
Cartagena are enjoying the best period in the club’s 27-year history, and a meeting with Championship side Birmingham should be a good test ahead of the 2023-24 term.

Blues never seem to set the world alight in these pre-season fixtures – a share of the spoils and no injuries for Eustace’s men would represent a successful evening at the Pinatar Arena.

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