Portsmouth will host Birmingham City at Fratton Park in the first round of the EFL Cup.
Portsmouth ended last season in bittersweet fashion. They claimed a trophy in the form of the Football League Trophy. Sunderland were the opponents in the final. Portsmouth were leading 2-1 in extra time, but Sunderland equalized, and the game went to penalties. They won the shootout 5-4 to claim the only silverware of the season. After this final in March, they had the opportunity to make their season even better in May.
They finished fourth in the League One and faced Sunderland in the playoff semi-finals. Sunderland prevailed 1-0 on aggregate and progressed to the final. The close defeat was a bitter pill for Portsmouth to swallow. They will aim to get that promotion this time. Kenny Jackett has made some good additions to his squad in the summer. He signed two defenders, namely Paul Downing and James Bolton.
In attack, Harry Anderson and Ellis Harrison are the players who Jackett has signed. Portsmouth will have strong hopes of promotion to the Championship after they came so close last year. However, the EFL Cup will provide a chance to win another piece of silverware. It will be tougher than the Football League Trophy, as the Premier League teams will compete in the latter stages as well.
Birmingham City are one tier above Portsmouth, but they had a season to forget last time. They finished 17th in the Championship, and the major reason was due to a nine-point deduction imposed upon them. Birmingham breached the Profitability and Sustainability Regulations of the EFL, which resulted in the ban. Aside from the loss of points, the deduction also killed the momentum of their season, and they slipped further down the table. Garry Monk was sacked as the manager, and Pep Clotet was appointed as the caretaker manager.
Gary Gardner is the only major signing which they have made until now. The Aston Villa player made the move permanent after spending last season on loan at Birmingham. Clotet will be keen on bringing good vibes back to the club after a hugely disappointing season last time. He will hope to bring in some new players as well before the transfer window closes.
A lot of time has elapsed since these two sides met each other. The last meeting came back in 2012 in a Championship clash. Portsmouth ran out 4-1 winners on the day which was a comprehensive win for them. In their last four meetings, each team has won twice and lost twice.
Portsmouth vs Birmingham City Prediction
The game will be a close one, but much depends on how both teams start their season. Birmingham City have more talent in their ranks, and they should be the slight favorites heading into the game. The game should have less than 2.5 goals in total. Both sides will attempt to keep it tight, but Birmingham City are likely to get a close win at the expense of Portsmouth.