Kieftenbeld says club are confident heading into Villa clash

Maikel Kieftenbeld of Birmingham moves away from Romain Saiss during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Andrews on December 4, 2017 in...

Birmingham City midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld is confident that the club is ready for the challenge of facing Aston Villa on Sunday.

Maikel Kieftenbeld of Birmingham moves away from Romain Saiss during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Andrews on December 4, 2017 in...

As reported by BBC Sport, Birmingham City midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld believes that the club confident heading into their crucial Second City derby match against Aston Villa this weekend.

Kieftenbeld, who was not initially supposed to be part of the squad at the start of the season under Harry Redknapp, has been able to experience a successful run in the first-team under new boss Steve Cotterill.

He has had a taste of this fixture before back in October, where he played an integral role in helping the Blues pick up a point against their neighbours.

Jota of Birmingham battles with Alan Hutton of Aston Villa  during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrews on October 29, 2017 in Birmingham,...

Now, however, he is eager to go one better and his sentiments will be shared by the thousands of Blues fans who will undoubtedly travel to Villa Park on Sunday.

"They are the best games to play for Birmingham in my three years here," he said. "Not always in terms of the quality of the game, but in terms of the atmosphere. A lot of fans are in the stand well before the game and I can't wait for it.

"I played five years for FC Groningen in the north of Holland and our derby game was against Heerenveen, but you can't compare it. The Blues-Villa game is a different level.

"It's easy in terms of being ready and prepared for this one. I love to play in them. It will be my fifth derby and unfortunately I've never won one, but it would be massive for us to win on Sunday.”

At the end of the day it is a nice sentiment from the Dutchman but, nine times out of ten, preparation goes out the window in these kind of high-pressure situations.

Preston North End's Joshua Earl and Birmingham City's Maikel Kieftenbeld during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Birmingham City at Deepdale on January 20, 2018...

One of the best tactics the Blues can hope to implement on Sunday would be to target some of Villa’s more attacking players from the word go and, while that sounds harsh, we all know that is how these kinds of derby games wind up.

The Blues are the visitors so they are going to have their backs against the wall from the start, especially considering that they will be the underdogs. The likes of Kieftenbeld will need to impose themselves in the middle of the park from the first whistle, as the likes of Jack Grealish will attempt to come racing out of the blocks.

The midday kickoff is bound to be explosive, and it seems as if both sides are ready for that.

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