Marketing types bill it as the richest match in football and the stakes are so high in the English Championship play-off final between Derby and Queens Park Rangers that one thinks betting on a red card at Wembley Stadium makes great sense.
Financial types say that the difference between winning and losing the English Championship play-off final is a British pounds amount with nine digits so one can expect both teams, fired up by their experienced managers, to try every trick in the book to gain promotion to the English Premier League.
Sparks flew when Derby and Queens Park Rangers met twice in the English Championship regular season, with both games resulting in half a dozen players receiving yellow cards.
Jonathan Moss cautioned two Queens Park Rangers players – Alejandro Faurlin and Junior Hoilett – and four Derby players – John Eustace, Craig Forsyth, Chris Martin and Andre Wisdom – when the Super Hoops beat the Rams 2-1 at Loftus Road in November. Six yellow cards were well above Moss’s season average of three cautions per game.
Michael Naylor showed yellow cards to two Derby players – Lee Grant and Forsyth – and four Queens Park Rangers players – Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Joey Barton, Richard Dunne and Niko Kranjcar – when the Rams defeated the Super Hoops 1-0 at the iPro Stadium in February. Naylor’s season average was about two and a half cautions per match so six was unusual.
The English Football League has appointed Lee Mason to referee the English Championship play-off final between Derby and Queens Park Rangers. Mason averaged more yellow and red cards than either Moss or Naylor this term so, given what is at stake at Wembley Stadium, one can expect him to take the names of at least six players. It would not take much for Mason to reach for his red card, something that he did five times in 35 matches this season and it does not hurt the suggested bet that Barton will play for QPR.
Both 888sport and Unibet are offering odds of 3.75 that the English Championship play-off final between Derby and Queens Park Rangers features at least one red card. That looks like the best bet in the high-pressure Wembley Stadium game, although one could make a decent case for backing the normal-time draw at odds of 3.30 with the same bookmakers.
The nature of play-off finals is that the two participants are evenly matched so, even though Derby ended the English Championship as the form team – the Rams have won seven and drawn one of their last eight matches – it does not feel right that bookmakers are favouring Steve McClaren’s side relatively strongly over Harry Redknapp’s outfit.
There would be nothing wrong with backing the normal-time draw in each of the three English Football League play-off finals, with the available odds producing a small profit in the event of one game going to extra time and large profits accruing from two or more matches featuring extended play.
The English League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium pits Leyton Orient against Rotherham. Leyton Orient beat Rotherham 1-0 the Matchroom Stadium in October before the Merry Millers beat the Os 2-1 at the New York Stadium in February. The English League Two play-off final at the national stadium will see Burton face Fleetwood. Burton and Fleetwood met four times across various competitions this term, with the Brewers winning two, drawing one and losing one of those games. The aggregate score was 7-7, though.
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