Championship promotion odds: Bees favourites to reach promised land
Preview of the play-offs
The first legs of the Championship play-off semi-finals take place on Monday when Bournemouth host Brentford and Barnsley take on Swansea at Oakwell.
All four contenders will be hoping to strike a decisive early blow in their bid for the richest prize in world football.
Here we take a look at their chances and the Championship promotion odds ahead of the play-offs.
Thomas Frank’s side are the play-off favourites, priced at 13/8, and will be looking to seal the deal after losing to Fulham in last year’s Wembley final.
The Bees made a slow start, winning only four of their first 12 games, while too many draws and three straight defeats in February cost them a top-two finish. But they went unbeaten in their last 12 and head into the play-offs as the form team on the back of four straight wins.
Striker Ivan Toney, the Championship’s leading marksman this season with 31 goals, is also back on track. He managed only one in seven games during a dry April, but struck in both of Brentford’s last two matches.
The Cherries, 9/4 to bounce back to the top flight at the first attempt, have been reminded just how tough it is to climb out of the second tier.
In the top two at Christmas, their automatic promotion bid then faltered and in February Jonathan Woodgate replaced the sacked Jason Tindall as manager.
Bournemouth slipped out of the play-off places after losing at home to Barnsley in March, and although they responded with seven consecutive wins, Woodgate’s side continue to blow hot and cold.
They closed the regular campaign by failing to score in three straight defeats and appear to have lost momentum. They have also lost twice to Brentford in the league this season and are the 11/8 underdogs in their semi-final, with Brentford 8/15 to reach the final again.
Barnsley are one of English football’s surprise packages this season after starting as one of the relegation favourites and are 4/5 in the Championship play-off betting to get past Swansea.
Head coach Valerien Ismael has worked wonders since replacing Gerhard Struber in October. The Reds had failed to win any of their first seven matches, but his high-octane brand of football rocketed them up the table and they are priced at 10/3 to pull off an unlikely promotion.
Barnsley sealed fifth spot on merit. Skipper and set-piece specialist Alex Mowatt has led by example and Poland defender Michal Helik has been a towering presence, while American Daryl Dike and fellow forward Carlton Morris have proved inspirational January signings.
Swansea have secured a play-off place for a second successive season under Steve Cooper following top-flight relegation in 2018, but top form has eluded them during the run-in with six defeats and just three wins in their last 11 games.
Cooper’s side are the play-off outsiders, priced at 4/1, but the Welshman said he was pleased with their performance in their 2-0 final-day defeat at promoted Watford and that they will fear no-one.
The Swans’ 16-goal leading scorer Andre Ayew was back in action at Vicarage Road after a three-game absence due to a hamstring injury and his timely return has boosted the Swans’ chances.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication