Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Norwich City

Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Norwich City

Middlesbrough play host to Norwich City on Friday evening looking for the win which would move the club within touching distance of confirming a Championship playoff spot.

However, Norwich City, currently in eighth position in the standings, travel to the Riverside Stadium sitting just seven points adrift of their fourth-placed opponents.

Given their sheer relentlessness since Michael Carrick became manager, it should come as no surprise that Middlesbrough eventually began to lose focus, nor should they criticised for it.

A five-point haul from five matches at this stage of the season is below par, and it has realistically cost Boro the opportunity to challenge for automatic promotion.

Nevertheless, their two-goal comeback to draw with Bristol City on Easter Monday has kept Carrick’s side six points clear of seventh place with just five games remaining.

While Carrick will have concerns with the eight goals that have been conceded in three games, Boro have scored in 12 of their last 13 outings, only failing to net at West Bromwich Albion.

With three home fixtures left, Boro should have enough to finish in the top four, yet they will be aware that the scenario will change should they lose to Norwich.

The Canaries have somehow remained in the playoff race despite only winning one of their most recent six fixtures in the Championship.

That triumph came at direct rivals Blackburn Rovers, who are just one point ahead in the final playoff spot, but David Wagner witnessed his team back that result up with a goalless draw at home to Rotherham United.

As well as this trip, Norwich also have a visit to West Brom on their schedule, but Wagner will be satisfied with the remaining matches that feature on the calendar.

Norwich are also growing in confidence in defence, it going unnoticed that the East Anglian side have conceded just three times in 540 minutes of second-tier football.

Middlesbrough Championship form:

Norwich City Championship form:

We say: Middlesbrough 2-1 Norwich City
Given the inconsistency of both teams, this is a difficult match to call, particularly with the increasing pressure for different reasons. Nevertheless, we have to give the edge to Boro, who will have regained some belief through battling back in their previous fixture.

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