Barnsley are set to open their 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship campaign by hosting Fulham at the Oakwell on Saturday.
The Tykes utterly dominated League One in the 2018/19 season to finish 2nd in the league table behind Luton Town by 3 points and clinch automatic promotion. This comes on the back of getting relegated in the season before.Embed from Getty Images
While immediate promotion to the Premier League would be a dream, Daniel Stendel’s side would firstly be looking to secure safety and consolidate their position in the new league.
Coming to their opponents, Fulham did not spend the previous season in the Championship either. The Cottagers struggled to get going in the Premier League and ended up getting relegated along with Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town.Embed from Getty Images
After quite a few managerial changes last season, interim caretaker Scott Parker was appointed as the full-time manager in the summer. The Londoners will be itching to get back into the top flight in their first attempt and will look to lay a marker in the opening game of a long season.
In terms of team news, Stendel has the entire roster of players available for the opening game of the season and should comfortably field a strong lineup at home. The Tykes have made a bunch of signings in the summer as they attempt to sustain their place in the second division.
Thus, Stendel is set to field a new centre-back pairing of Bambo Diaby and Mads Anderson in front of goalkeeper Samuel Sahin-Radingler, a Bosman signing from Hannover. Among the other new arrivals, Mallik Wilks and Mike Bahre are expected to get the nods as well.
Meanwhile, Scott Parker will be without centre-back Alfie Mawson and teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon who are nursing knee and hamstring injuries respectively. Further, Stefan Johansen is a doubt for the game as well.
However, the Cottagers will have the services of on-loan attackers Anthony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro, from Brighton and Wolves respectively. A lot will be expected from Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has decided to stay with the club.
Head-To-Head and Barnsley vs Fulham Prediction
Barnsley are ahead with 31 wins compared to Fulham’s 26 with the remaining 23 ending in draws. However, the recent history paints a different picture with the Tykes unable to beat their opponents in the past 6 meetings, losing 5 of them.
In fact, the Londoners won the last 2 meetings between the sides in the 2017/18 Championship and will once again be favorites for the match. However, Stendel’s men will take confidence from their supreme home record last season, when they went unbeaten at the Oakwell.
Further, the Tykes won 4 of their 5 pre-season games and come into the game high on confidence. Nevertheless, Scott Parker’s side are the favorites for the match and should have enough firepower to take home 3 points.
Predicted Barnsley XI: Sahin-Radlinger; Cavare, Diaby, Andersen, Pinillos; Wilks, Mowatt, McGeehan, Thiam; Bahre, Woodrow
Predicted Fulham XI: Bettinelli; Odoi, Ream, Marchand, Bryan; Cairney, Cisse, McDonald; Knockaert, Cavaleiro; Mitrovic