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English League Championship Play-off Final 2014 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.


Derby County vs Queens Park Rangers | Saturday 24 May | Wembley | 15:45

championshipintroConsidered the most lucrative match in football (worth approximately a staggering £120 million), this match pits two stalwarts of the Premier League system against one another. Steve McClaren started the season as one of Harry Redknapp’s assistants at QPR, but has managed to resurrect the fortunes of a Derby side bristling with talent. QPR, on the other hand, have had some difficulty dealing with the expectations of automatic promotion. Tony Fernandez, perhaps the most loved owner in English football, will be hoping that his expensively assembled squad can justify themselves upon the big Wembley stage.

championship1To Win (90mins)
Derby County 5/4
Draw 21/10
QPR 21/10

Derby County
Aiming to eradicate the memories of a painful 2007/2008 campaign, where they managed to amass the lowest points tally in Premier League history, Derby have managed to construct a powerfully focused side out of humble means. They were extremely impressive in their semi-final win over Brighton/Hove, with Chris Martin providing a strong focal point for the resurgent Rams. Craig Bryson has also proved an amazing goal scoring edition in the heart of midfield. On-loan Chelsea midfielder Bamford adds to the midfield potency while Craig Forsyth provides defensive support that has earned him a call-up to the Scottish international set-up. Steve McClaren has fashioned an industrious, free-scoring side out of a seemingly old-fangled 4-3-3 system. Luckily for him, Martin provides a clinical striking instinct that he never possessed in his spell at Norwich City.

Queens Park Rangers
championship2QPR have won three of their last five games, looking far more defensively able than they once were. Burnley’s on-loan striker, Charlie Austin, has proved a goal-scoring revelation for QPR this season, instrumental in their last gasp job against Wigan in the semi-finals. Niko Kranjcar provides much needed flair to the QPR midfield, while Joey Barton is the engine in the heart of the pitch that is necessary in such occasions as these. On face value, this QPR side should have enough ammunition to take down any side in the Championship. Dunne and Onuoha provide a stable central defensive partnership, while Assou-Ekotto and Danny Simpson offer pace in the full-back positions. Junior Hoilett lends pace to the side, proving an able partner to the instinctive striking prowess of Charlie Austin. QPR have a formidable side, but come up against a Derby side riding the crest of a wave of goodwill that will be hard to counteract.

VERDICT: Queens Park Rangers 21/10
Common logic seems to dictate that Derby have the upper hand, winning four of their last five games while scoring bucket loads of goals. However, I break with conventional wisdom and hold with QPR’s wealth of international experience. They have a far more dynamic bench and have the Premier League know-how that should see them through to another Premier League campaign.

The man knows his football, but even he gets it wrong from time to time. Feel free to share your view below.

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