It remains an odd prospect to see a team floundering in the depths of the Championship representing England in the Europa League, although Birmingham have a great chance of booking a place in the competition’s group stages after recording a goalless draw in Portugal last week.
Chris Hughton’s team did not look out of place in Madeira and they contrived to hit the woodwork on three occasions, something which denied them a precious away goal going into Thursday’s second leg at St Andrews.
Perhaps this will come back to haunt them in the second leg, with the bookmakers making the Blues slight outsiders at even money (bet365 – £200 free bets) to go through and they will have to be wary that a goal for Ivo Vieira’s side will mean Birmingham need at least two.
City did win their opening home match by beating Coventry 1-0 and they can be backed at 6/5 (Betfred – £50 free betting) to claim victory, with striker Chris Wood looking for better fortune in front of goal after hitting the frame of the goal twice last week and he can be backed at 7/1 to open the scoring in this match.
Adam Rooney is a 6/1 chance to break the deadlock and he is likely to be the designated penalty taker should Blues get a penalty, although it cannot be ignored that Nacional finished a creditable sixth in the Portuguese top flight last term and 14/5 (Stan James) about them winning this match simply looks to big about a side that were relegated last term.