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Cardiff City and Swansea City line up for biggest derby

Michael Chopra and Ashley Williams celebrate derby goals
Michael Chopra and Ashley Williams show what it means to score in a derby

NPOWER CHAMPIONSHIP - CARDIFF CITY v SWANSEA CITY
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Sunday 7 November Kick-off: 1310 GMT
Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC ONE & online, full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales & BBC Radio Cymru, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Sport website

SPORT WALES EXTRA
with BBC Wales football reporter Rob Phillips
Analysis and comment with BBC Wales' midweek online column

They are calling it the biggest south Wales derby in history. No hype there, then.

Both sides are flying high in the Championship, they will play to a packed crowd and an audience swelled by terrestrial television viewers.

The ever-logical managers - Cardiff's Dave Jones and Brendan Rogers of Swansea - will rightly point out, the reward for victory is the same for their teams away at Reading or at home to Bristol City - the games which follow three days later for the two clubs.

But for the fans, this is different.

They will ensure the players will believe this is the biggest game of all before they arrive at Sunday's shoot-out at the Cardiff City Stadium. That is the derby spirit!

Cardiff's Adam Matthews challenges Swansea's Cedric van der Gun
Cardiff's Adam Matthews challenges Swansea's Cedric van der Gun

In fact the pre-match hype may be deserved this time.

Since the two south Wales foes have never been in the top flight together, their lofty positions in the Championship means this is the highest either has been ranked for a League derby.

And even with the fear of a mind-numbing goalless draw - it is difficult not to see this one being a cracker.

Let's face it, ever since the derbies resumed after a nine-year break two seasons ago, all the games have had their fair share of incidents and controversy.

Four red cards - Swansea's Leon Britton and Tom Butler, plus Cardiff's Stephen McPhail, twice - in the five games since the resumption tells you all you need to know about the passion and commitment.

And Butler had not even been playing when he was sent off after the final whistle at Ninian Park in 2009.

Stalwarts of the Old Firm clash, the Merseyside, north London and even the Bristol derbies will all contend theirs' are bigger.

In some cases they would be right.

But few derbies in these sanitised days seem to live up to the billing of this one - neatly summed up by former Swansea defender Chris Coleman.

Even when he was boss at Coventry City, talk of the south Wales derby still fired him to recall: ''You could smell the hatred.''

Coleman may well have hit the nail on the head in more ways than one.

For so many of the supporters this is a game to be endured and not enjoyed.

Yes, it is the first game they look for when the fixtures are rolled out.

But unless you are supporting the team that wins, the occasion tends to be too nerve-wracking to really enjoy while it is happening.

And they are usually close.

Only 13 of the 58 meetings between the two sides have resulted in wins by two goals or more. Just goes to show there's rarely anything comfortable about this game.

This one promises to be no different. By common consent (and goals scored in the opening 14 games), Cardiff have the most fearsome attack in the Championship.

606: DEBATE
TheBennifactor

Craig Bellamy, Michael Chopra, Peter Whittingham, Chris Burke . . . are all formidable.

Swansea City have the best defensive form in the division. They didn't concede a League goal in October - a total of more than seven-and-a-half hours and counting.

Both sides will be missing key men because of suspension.

Twelve-goal Jay Bothroyd is in the form of his life and scored against the Swans last season - but won't be playing because of collecting five bookings.

Swans midfielder Darren Pratley has netted three times against Cardiff and has been a talismanic player for his team in the engine room.

But he won't be playing either after notching up the dreaded five yellows.

Frankly it could hardly be closer.

Nearly 26,000 are set to cram into the cauldron - a far cry from the record derby attendance of 57,510 in 1949, but full enough.

Ironically, even though it is the Championship game of the weekend and the biggest South Wales derby - it might be decided by absent friends.

The winner may be the team which copes best with the absence of suspended stars.



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see also
Derby build-up thrills managers
04 Nov 10 |  Championship
Sinclair relishes his first derby
02 Nov 10 |  Swansea
Swansea face losing loanee Emnes
01 Nov 10 |  Swansea
Bothroyd 'gutted' to miss derby
01 Nov 10 |  Cardiff
Allen targets more Swansea goals
01 Nov 10 |  Swansea
Cardiff confident in Premier push
29 Oct 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff 2-1 Swansea
03 Apr 10 |  Championship
Unforgettable Ninian Park derbies
03 Apr 09 |  Championship


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