Championship Play-Off Final Betting Tips
The Champions League final may be the most glitzy football match on Saturday, but earlier in the afternoon is a highly lucrative Championship play-off final with either QPR or Derby County winning promotion to the Premier League.
Steve McLaren’s Derby head into the match as favourites, which would see them return to the top flight of English football for the first time since 2008.
Rams fans won’t be too keen to remember that season in a rush, with the combined management of Billy Davies and Paul Jewell only able to muster one league win all season. They we’re immediately relegated after amassing just 11 points, an all-time Premier League low.
A return to the Premier League looked a long way off after the first couple of months of the season, but after four years at the club, Nigel Clough was sacked and in came Steve McClaren, and boy did he have an effect.
The former England manager arrived at Pride Park with Derby sat 14th in the league, but with just one defeat in his first 14 league games, Derby went as high as second going into the New Year.
In the end, they had to settle for third spot, and they come into the Wembley showdown eight games unbeaten. The most recent win was a 4-1 win over Brighton, which saw them win the semi-final 6-2 on aggregate against the south coast side.
Midfielder Craig Bryson missed that second leg with a back injury, but he’s back in contention after resuming full training this week.
QPR Betting Odds
Harry Redknapp’s side are well documented as the Championship’s biggest spenders. In fact Rangers, who are backed by businessman Tony Fernandes, have a wage bill bigger than Borussia Dortmund and Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid.
Not gaining automatic promotion with such a big budget has been seen as a failure by many, but surely if they don’t win the play-off final, Redknapp’s tenure at Loftus Road is untenable.
Rangers come into this match with just four wins in their last nine, but they are unbeaten in their last five, most recently beating Wigan Athletic in the semi-finals with talismanic striker Charlie Austin scoring the winner.
BET OF THE DAY: Austin, who was still playing non-league football for Poole Town four years ago, has netted five goals in his last five games, and would be a decent bet to score in the final, at 8/5 with Bet 365.
The Hoops expect on-loan Tottenham full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto to overcome a knee injury which saw him miss both legs of the semi-final and Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar should also return from a hamstring strain.
Alejandro Faurlin will not fit in time from a cruciate knee ligament injury whilst long-term absentees Jermaine Jenas and Matt Phillips also miss out.
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Watch the Championship play-off final live on Sky Sports 1 from 3pm.