Championship play-offs: Boro in pole position to beat Bees
Fernando Amorebieta’s stoppage time strike in the first leg at Griffin Park changed the complexion of this Championship play-off semi-final. It ensured Middlesbrough retained their status as Premier League promotion favourites with Coral at 5/4.
Now facing a trip to Teesside, outgoing Brentford boss Mark Warburton is a 12/1 outsider to get his Bees up, but they have to score twice against the best defence in their division during the regular season and keep Boro out too.
It’s something the Londoners have failed to do, and thus explains their status as 11/4 match outsiders to win at the Riverside in 90 minutes, and reach Wembley at 9/2. Aitor Karanka is conversely odds-on at 1/7 to take Middlesbrough through to the final, and Middlesbrough are even-money matches fora home win in normal time.
A draw at 12/5 is good enough to see Boro pack their bags for a Bank Holiday Monday battle against the winners of Norwich City v Ipswich Town, which happens to be a more finely poised tie.
Were it not a rare goalkeeping gaffe from Greek veteran Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, Middlesbrough would not have conceded against Brentford in three meetings this season. With the impetus on the Bees and their pesky attacking ensemble cast to do what comes naturally to them, though, a prudent bet may be backing a Boro win with both teams scoring again at 16/5.
Jelle Vossen, a man swept aside by Marc Wilmots’ reinvention of the Belgium national team, could be key in attack for the hosts once again, and he is a 6/1 shot to repeat his feat of grabbing the opener. Vossen also features in a tasty 10/3 wincast, which requires punter to back Middlesbrough in 90 minutes and him to net anytime therein.
On-loan Patrick Bamford, the Championship’s Player of the Season, will once again be a thorny foil for the Bees to deal with. You can enhance his 6/5 anytime scorer odds by taking a nifty 9/4 wincast on the Chelsea-owned England Under-21 attacker.
Boro skipper Grant Leadbitter remains a dead-ball danger, and holds awesome odds of 11/4 to add to a dozen league strikes anytime.
For Brentford, leading marksman Andre Gray will be putting a shift in up top and looking to pounce on lapses like the one that gifted him his first leg goal. It’s 2/1 he strikes again anytime.
Impressive Spurs loanee Alex Pritchard, meanwhile, is worth taking at 10/3 in that market, as is fellow attacking midfielder Jota (4/1). Recently linked with Premier League newcomers Bournemouth, plus Leicester City and Swansea, the Spaniard seems destined for top-flight football for next term one way or another.
It’s Middlesbrough in the driving seat in this tie, however, and they are expected to progress. Either wincast, on Vossen or Bamford, mentioned above are worthy shouts to better short anytime odds and the even-money price on a painless win in 90 minutes.