Six crucial Championship matches over the Easter Weekend
Action hotting up in England’s second-tier
There’s not long left to go in the race for promotion and the battle to avoid relegation in the Championship this season.
Two vital rounds of action over the weekend will prove decisive in the make-up of the final table for teams at either end of the division.
All of the main players will be in action twice across the five day period. And the Coral News Team have picked out six of the most important matches for you to keep your eyes on…
Cardiff City v Burton Albion (Friday, 3pm)
This is a vital clash at both ends of the table. Victory for Cardiff City could put them 10 points ahead of Fulham and Aston Villa in third and fourth-place respectively. Success for Burton Albion would give their Championship survival hopes a significant boost.
The bad news for the Brewers is that the Bluebirds have the division’s joint-best home record. Neil Warnock’s men have dropped just 12 points at home all season and are currently on a run of seven straight successes.
Barnsley v Bristol City (Friday, 3pm)
Bristol City are one place outside of the play-offs, while Barnsley are one place above the relegation zone. So victory for either at Oakwell could have huge ramifications.
Fortunately for the Robins, their hosts on Good Friday hold some of the worst form in the league. Jose Morais’ men have won just twice since the start of November. They’ve beaten one side in the top-half of the table all season long and are plummeting back towards League One.
The visitors may be inconsistent. But they have a forward line stocked with talent. Bobby Reid, Famara Diedhiou and Milan Djuric have all chipped in of late. They’re 11/8 favourites for the match with Barnsley priced at 21/10.
Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Friday, 7:30pm)
These two have both had a taste of the Premier League in recent years. And both are eager to make a swift return. Wolves look the more likely candidates to complete the journey. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are 13 points clear of third in the Championship.
Benik Afobe has found his shooting boots since joining on-loan from AFC Bournemouth and the Midlanders are 17/10 favourites as a result.
Boro, though, are chasing a play-off place. They’re a tough nut to crack under Tony Pulis and are unbeaten in six matches – scoring three goals four times in that run. They’re 9/5 to cause a minor shock against the champions-elect.
Sheffield United v Cardiff City (Monday, 7:45pm)
Depending on Sheffield United’s result against Brentford on Friday, this could be make or break for the Blades. Chris Wilder’s men sit just outside the play-off places prior to the weekend’s matches.
Victory over automatic promotion hopefuls Cardiff will either keep them in the mix or ramp up the pressure on the sides around them. It’s a game they cannot afford to lose.
Aston Villa v Reading (Tuesday, 7:45pm)
Reading would have expected to be alongside Aston Villa in the race for the Premier League at the start of the season. As it stands, the Royals are in serious danger of relegation to the third-tier for the first time since 2002.
Jaap Stam was sacked last week after presiding over a run of one win in 18 for the Berkshire club. They’re now just three points above the dreaded drop-zone. A trip to Villa Park doesn’t make things easier against a Villans side still battling for automatic promotion.
Bolton Wanderers v Birmingham City (Tuesday, 8pm)
In 2012, Paul Caddis’ 93rd-minute equaliser saw Birmingham City avoid relegation to League One on goal difference. The Blues aren’t that desperate yet, but they could do with a win against a Bolton Wanderers side also battling to avoid the drop.
The Blues have looked better under Garry Monk. They picked up their first victory in seven against Hull City before the international break. If they can beat the Trotters on Tuesday night, they could open the relegation picture right up.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing