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Championship Play-Off: The Richest Match in Football

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Leeds United vs Southampton

Leeds United and Southampton are about to meet in the 2023/24 Championship Play-Off final and the winners are in line for a windfall of £170m over the next three seasons.

The Premier League is the biggest domestic competition in world football and with it brings huge exposure, television revenues and, for the newly promoted teams, a chance to play against the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

This season the riches will be fought over by two of the teams relegated from the top flight last term; and with Leicester City already promoted it is perfectly clear how big the gap between the top two flights has become. It is a huge leap as Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton Town all found out recently, all three being relegated after just one season of Premier League football.

But that won’t concern the players, fans and owners of Leeds United and Southampton one bit when they step out at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon…they both desperately want to win the biggest prize in the game.

Daniel Farke’s Leeds will be kicking themselves after letting their grip on an automatic promotion place slip in the closing weeks while Russell Martin’s Southampton will be ruing the fact that a record 25 match unbeaten run wasn’t enough for them to get promoted.    

Leeds and Southampton have one last chance…but who is going to take it?


Talking Points

Can Leeds conquer their play-off curse?

After a goalless first leg in the semi-finals Farke’s side battered Norwich City 4-0 to book their place at Wembley. But fans will be more than a little nervous considering their record of losing their last five play-off matches. Their most recent disappointment came in 2019 when they led a semi-final against Derby County with a 1-0 away win, and they went 2-0 up early in their home leg, before eventually losing 4-3 on aggregate.

Farke will tell his players to concentrate on the present and he will ask his star forwards to deliver the performance of their lives on Sunday. Championship Player of the Year Crysensio Summerville will hope to add to his 20 goals for the campaign while Netherlands forward has bagged 14 already.

Illan Meslier's penalty saving record could prove pivotal to Leeds' chance of winning the Championship play-off final
Illan Meslier hopes for a flawless performance against a dangerous Southampton attack

But Farke is likely to be without the experienced Patrick Bamford while defender Pascal Struijk is sidelined too, and keeper Illan Meslier will be hoping for a flawless performance against a dangerous Saints attack.


Armstrong has Leeds in his sights again

The Saints beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1 in the semi-final and their main man was on target twice to book their final place. Adam Armstrong, with 23 goals, is the second top scorer in the league and he put in a man-of-the-match performance against the Baggies. And the Southampton striker has enjoyed his games against Leeds this season, scoring twice in a 3-1 win back in September and bagging another as Saints won 2-1 at Elland Road.  

He’s also made 13 assists and Armstrong’s strike partner Che Adams is a good bet to make his fair share of Championship Play-Off final highlights too. He has 16 goals this season and Leeds keeper Meslier will have his work cut out to keep this lethal pair at bay.

At the back look out for loanee centre back Taylor Harwood Bellis. The Manchester City academy man won promotion with Burnley last season and he is one of the best ball playing defenders in the league.   


History

With 18 wins to 13 Southampton have had the edge over the Whites and this season they have won both games. The Saints beat Leeds 3-1 back in September and then won at Elland Road and it may be that Martin has worked out Farke’s Whites…but time will tell.

Neither team finished the season in spectacular form with two wins, a draw and three defeats from the last six, but both are now 90 plus minutes away from the ultimate prize.    


Betting Tip

Play-Off finals are always special occasions; but this one, with the biggest prize of all and two well matched teams could turn out to be a classic. The Championship Play-Off final betting odds slightly favour the Yorkshire side at a price of 2.18 to win in 90 minutes with the Saints at SBOTOP odds of 3.01. If you fancy a 90 minute draw that’s priced at 3.13 and with two attack-minded teams Over 2.50 goals at a price of 1.98 is a fair alternative.  

Leeds fans will be dreaming of games against their fierce rivals Manchester United while Southampton supporters will be happy to leave their local enemies, Portsmouth, in their wake. But, as well as having a poor play-off record the Whites rarely enjoy a trip to London, losing on 28 of their last 36 visits to the capital city. I think it’s going to be Southampton’s day.  

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT))

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


 

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