Championship play-off final: Hull’s Tigers to pip Wednesday to promotion
Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday
- 2016 Championship play-off final
- Saturday, May 28th
- Kick-off: 17:00 BST
- Wembley Stadium, north London
- Live on Sky Sports 1
Tigers ready to bare claws at Wembley
Both regular season meetings between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday ended in draws, but there must be a Wembley winner in what is considered to be the richest game in football; the Championship play-off final.
Punters can still get odds for the score to be level after 90 minutes, however, with Coral offering 21/10 on this Yorkshire derby going beyond regulation time.
Steve Bruce’s Tigers, promoted to the Premier League via this method on the hallowed turf eight years ago, start as firm 5/4 match favourites to win without resorting to an additional half-hour or penalties, though.
Many that have fancied a flutter on these play-offs backed the Owls for promotion, but be aware they are reckoned 5/2 outsiders for victory in 90 minutes.
Wednesday coach Carlos Carvalhal has done sterling work to even get a relatively modest squad to this stage, and the Portuguese’s stock has certainly risen once again, with the classy up-and-coming coach having agreed a new three-year Owls contract in principle.
The Steel City side’s opponents are bristling with Premier League calibre players, though, and that may be the difference on the day. So, punters can get increased value on Hull at 16/5 to be winning after 30 minutes of normal time or, considering how tight the two previous fixture meetings were, take odds of 27/10 on the Tigers to triumph by exactly one goal.
Bruce counting on experience to tip scales
Hull boss Bruce is facing his first-ever Wembley play-off final as a manager, having won the 2002 edition with Birmingham City at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. “It’s a really difficult league, but we’ve given ourselves an outstanding chance of getting promoted,” he told local radio.
“We have none of the excuses, now we’ve had 10 days to prepare and a whole week to build up to face a good Sheffield side. We are capable of putting in an awful performance, which usually happens in the second or the third game in a short period of time, but we know we can perform.”
The Tigers tactician has previous with promotions to the Premier League, and could be the first ever boss to achieve four if his Tigers triumph, having twice guided Birmingham to these great heights before and of course Hull.
“We’ve got a squad that has been there before in the last couple of years; let’s hope that’s a bit of an advantage,” Bruce told press.
Tigerish Hernandez has the Abel-ity to turn tie
The Manchester United playing legend certainly has a potent card up his sleeve in the form of fierce forward Abel Hernandez, with the hitman having led the club scoring charts after notching 21 in the Championship this term.
Uruguay international Hernandez struck in the first leg of the play-off semi-final victory against Derby County, and is the only Hull hero to have gotten on the scoresheet in regular league meetings with Wednesday this season, all of which makes the striker a fantastic 4/1 to draw first blood.
Fellow attacking asset Mohamed Diame has also been in a dangerous mood of late, netting the final goal in his last three regular season Championship outings, so looks a value punt at 8/1 for the final say again, with adaptable Egypt wingman Ahmed Elmohamady 11/2 to add a strike anytime.
Forestieri circling for Owls
The Owls may face a formidable front line, which is to be expected from a team that dropped out of the top-tier just last term, but Carvalhal and co boast some rather rampant attackers of their own.
Wednesday will additionally be buoyed by the news that Hull number one Allan McGregor will not recover from injury in time, meaning back-up goalie Eldin Jakupovic must yet again step into the void.
Fantastic all-round attacker Fernando Forestieri is the Sheffield striker who should be licking his lips at that prospect, having clocked up 15 Championship strikes plus six assists, as well as being the only Owls scorer against the Tigers this term. Having been offloaded by Watford, there is more than enough motivation for the marksman to make a difference.
Main threat Forestieri can be backed by customers at 6/4 in the anytime market, while midfield man Kieran Lee starred in both legs against Brighton and Hove Albion, and is 11/2 to also get himself on the scoresheet, with reliable goal-getter Gary Hooper also a 6/4 shout.