Championship Playoff Final Odds: 3 Tips For Nottingham Forest vs Huddersfield
The most lucrative game in football is upon us once more, as Huddersfield Town prepare to face Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-off final on Sunday.
Betting sites have numerous appealing options for Sunday’s match, especially if you dig a little deeper than just picking a winner.
Huddersfield finished third in the regular season, one place and two points above Forest. They overcame Luton Town 2-1 in the semi-finals to reach Wembley, where they will be looking to replicate their play-off success in 2017.
Nottingham Forest were not thinking about promotion in the early weeks of the campaign.
When Steve Cooper replaced Chris Hughton in the City Ground dugout in mid-September, Forest were rooted to the foot of the table having won only one of their first eight games – a 2-0 triumph over Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium (overseen by caretaker boss Steven Reid).
Cooper has done a magnificent job since then, guiding Forest to fourth and a penalty shoot-out victory over Sheffield United in the semi-finals of the play-offs.
Forest Feel Like This Is Their Time
Despite finishing below Huddersfield in the regular season, Forest are the 1/2 favourites on football betting sites to join Fulham and Bournemouth in the Premier League next term.
In truth, there was little to choose between these two teams over 46 games - as mentioned above, the difference was only two points.
Forest averaged two points per match under Cooper; had he taken charge in the summer and maintained that rate throughout the campaign, Forest would have amassed 92 points and won the Championship title ahead of Fulham.
Forest’s status as favourites is also linked to the size of the club. The two-time European champions have not participated in the Premier League for 23 years. An entire generation of Forest fans does not know what it is like to follow their team in the top flight.
There is a feeling among many Championship followers that it is Forest’s destiny to win promotion this season, with the momentum generated by Cooper and his players too strong for others to resist.
Football does not always work like that, however. And some Forest fans will be concerned by how nervy their side looked in the second leg of the semi-final. Having beaten Sheffield United 2-1 in the first leg at Bramall Lane, Forest lost by the same scoreline in Nottingham and were holding on for penalties towards the end.
The shoot-out ended in success, but it was not an altogether convincing performance before that.
Play-off finals are often determined by which side best holds their nerve and plays the game, not the occasion. The evidence of that second leg suggests Forest have work to do in that regard.
Still, knockout tournaments like this are all about getting the job done, and Cooper’s men did that thanks in large part to a tremendous performance in the first leg.
They scored more goals and conceded fewer than Huddersfield in the regular campaign, while they are 2-1 up on the Terriers in the head-to-head record this season having also beaten them in the FA Cup.
Huddersfield The Underdogs But Should Not Be Written Off
Huddersfield, you feel, will not particularly mind being the 5/2 underdogs on bet365 to win the game in 90 minutes.
After all, no one expected them to be in the play-off final at the start of this season. Last summer, Carlos Corberan’s side were the third-favourites to suffer relegation to League One at 3/1, behind only Blackpool and Peterborough United.
The Terriers were instead the second tier’s surprise package, finishing only six points shy of the automatic promotion spots.
Huddersfield arguably do not have any standout individuals of the calibre of Forest’s Djed Spence or Brennan Johnson. But they are a fine side collectively, and in Sorba Thomas and Harry Toffolo, they have two wing-backs who could take advantage of the big Wembley pitch.
That duo has contributed 20 assists over the course of the campaign, and Forest will have their hands full trying to contain their bursts down the flanks.
Play-Off Finals Are Often Tight, Low-Scoring Encounters
Play-off finals are rarely high-scoring affairs. With so much at stake, participating teams are usually wary of making errors that could end their hopes of winning promotion.
This is not the occasion for taking unnecessary risks, which is why seven of the last nine editions of this game have featured two goals or fewer – as did both Championship meetings between these two sides.
In that light, under 2.5 goals is worth considering at 4/7 with Paddy Power. The first half is likely to be particularly cagey, as both teams look to feel each other out.
Forest and Huddersfield will be aware of the other’s counter-attacking capabilities - they mounted the second- and fourth-most attacks on the break respectively in 2021/22 - and will focus on keeping things tight early on.
A goalless first half is very attractively priced at 6/4 with Betfair and might be a punt to keep a keen eye on.
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