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Friday, May 07, 2010

Championship Play Offs: Ties Preview

After an in-depth look at the four teams involved, we now take a look at the ties in question.

previews the two Championship play off semi finals - and sticks his neck on the line over who will contest the final.

Nottingham Forest vs. Blackpool

First leg: Saturday May 8, 12:45, Bloomfield Road
Second leg: Tuesday May 11, 19:45, City Ground

Form (last six games):

Nottingham Forest:
Blackpool: DWWLWW

Previous meetings:

Blackpool 3-1 Nottingham Forest, April 17, Bloomfield Road
Nottingham Forest 0-1 Blackpool, September 19, City Ground

The tie:

Having sneaked into the top six in the final two weeks of the season, surprise package Blackpool are now just three games away from the Premier League.

Ian Holloway's revolution by the seaside has transformed one of the pre-season favourites for the drop into a team who have battled all term for a play-off place.

Standing between them and a shot at promotion at Wembley are Nottingham Forest.

The men from the City Ground posed the only real threat to Newcastle and West Brom's domination of the division this season, but Billy Davies's side utlimately had to settle for a spot in the end of season lottery.

Ironically, their opponents were the last team to beat them on home soil - and the only team to take six points off them this term. An element of revenge will no doubt be on the mind of the former Preston boss therefore.

This is a match-up between two teams whose home form is much better than their results on the road. Forest haven't won away in 11, and only recently lost on a visit to Bloomfield Road.

The Seasiders almost always score at home, but have proved vulnerable on their travels, and will need to take some kind of lead to protect into the second leg if they're to stand a chance.

Play-off encounters are usually tighter than regular games during the season, and the fact the two teams have met recently could also be a factor.

However, with Forest being so strong at home and playing the second leg there, they may just have too much for Blackpool.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest

Cardiff City vs. Leicester City
First leg: Sunday May 9, 13:15, Walkers Stadium
Second leg: Wednesday May 12, 19:45, Cardiff City Stadium

(last six games):

Cardiff City: LWWDDW
Leicester City: WWWWWL

Previous meetings:

Cardiff City 2-1 Leicester City, March 30, Cardiff City Stadium
Leicester City 1-0 Cardiff City, March 13, Walkers Stadium

The tie:

It's almost been impossible to separate Cardiff and Leicester this season. They both won their home games against one in the regular season - matches which happened in the space of three weeks.

The two clubs also finished level on points after 46 matches - with Cardiff having a superior goal difference of just three.

All of which means that deciding who will have the edge over two play-off ties is very difficult to call.

Do Cardiff have the advantage playing at home in the second leg? Do Leicester actually prefer making the most out of a home advantage in the first game and taking a lead to Wales to defend?

This one could go all the way into extra time and penalties - they might even need to toss a coin to decide who goes to Wembley. Leicester look favourites so, because strange things happen in the play-offs, I'll go for Cardiff.

Prediction: Cardiff City

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