'Wolves v Boro - Opposition Preview'
Middlesbrough FC return to Championship football on Saturday as they travel to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With new managers and a summer of change at both clubs, Boro and Wolves will be hoping to start their Championship campaign in a positive manner.
We spoke to Thomas from Wolves Blog about their pre-season... "Where do I start?"
"The managerial situation dragged on longer than it should have done, even though it was obvious Paul Lambert wasn't their man. Former Valencia and Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo duly arrived from the Jorge Mendes stable and we've been recruiting his players ever since."
"The £15 million capture of midfielder Reuben Neves from Porto looks like the signing of the summer. We've also brought in giant central defender Willy Boly on a season long loan, also from Porto and most recently attacking midfielder Diogo Jota from Atletico Madrid."
"There's been five or six other new faces added and a switch to 343 with a strong emphasis on playing out from the back, so it's very much a new Wolves team heading into the season."
"With our summer business, expectations are sky high."
"Our owners have shown considerable ambition and when you see players arriving from Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco to play in the Championship, you can't help but be swept along."
"That said, last season should serve as a reminder that an influx or foreign talent doesn't always equate to instant success. We've got a very difficult start too with Boro at home (even though they're a team we usually beat at Molineux and lose to in the reverse fixture) and then two tough looking fixtures at Hull and Derby."
"Boro will rightly be promotion favourites. Solid defensively for most of last season, it's no surprise Gary Monk has invested heavily in forwards to address the issues at the other end of the pitch. I think they'll be in the top six most of the season and challenging for the top two. But the Championship is a horrible slog, so nothing is guaranteed."
We asked Thomas which Wolves player Boro should look out for, with new signing Diogo Jota appearing to be the danger man.
"I'm going to say Diogo Jota. Scored a fair few goals for Porto (on loan from Atletico) last season and assisted just as many. The obvious answer would have been Reuben Neves, but I expect his role to be more understated, pulling strings in the middle of the park."
"We'll be looking to Jota to make something happen in the final third, particularly with Helder Costa out injured and Ivan Cavaleiro suspended."
When asked about which Boro players will be a threat to Wolves, Thomas said;
"I'm very interested to see how Britt Assombalonga gets on this season. He came down with Forest at the end of last season only looking about 75% fit but was still a threat."
"With a pre-season behind him I'm expecting him to go up a level and if he's at his explosive best, that could be the difference. But you've signed so many forwards I'm not even entirely sure he'll start."
Predicted Line Up
John Ruddy in goal. Doherty and Douglas wing-backs (both good players). Boly, Coady (midfielder turned defender) and Miranda center halves, Neves and Saiss holding midfielders, Jota and Enobakhare just behind a lone forward, which should be Nouha Dicko if fit. I'd say all but Dicko are certain to play assuming no injuries.
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"A draw wouldn't be too bad for either side, but both will feel they can win it. I'll go for 2-2."
Have your say
Do you agree with the score prediction? Who should start for Boro? Join in the debate on the oneBoro Forum.