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Middlesbrough have the edge over rivals as play-off fever builds

| 05.05.2015

The Championship play-off final is known as the most lucrative match in football, with the winner booking the last available spot in the Premier League and gaining access to the many millions of pounds the league’s TV rights deal has to offer.

Understandably, as Norwich and Ipswich and Middlesbrough and Brentford prepare to do battle, the pressure to reach the promised land is intense, but before they can even dare to dream of mixing it with the big boys, they must scrap it out over two, two-legged semi-finals.

In what has been one of the tightest Championship seasons in history, picking an ultimate winner from the quartet, who were separated by just eight points during the season, is no mean feat

The bods at news.ladbrokes don’t shirk challenges though, and have evaluated each side’s chances of winning the play-offs below:

Norwich – 19/10

The Canaries have been a winning machine since appointing Alex Neil as manager in January.

As the third-place finishers this season, Delia Smith’s pride and joy already have a considerable advantage.

The play-offs have been won by the team to finish third in the league in five of the 10 seasons since the Championship came to be, while the Carrow Road club have only failed to beat Middlesbrough of their three rivals this term.

Middlesbrough – 11/5

The north east outfit head to the nervy world of the play-offs boasting the league’s best defence and having won all bar one of their six matches against their postseason rivals this season.

They managed to score four goals in all of their three home games against their fellow promotion chasers and kept clean sheets in two of their three away games against the trio too.

It’s Aitor Karanka’s men that should be backed.

Brentford – 7/2

A surprise inclusion in the postseason action after claiming two wins in the final two games of the season to land in fifth place.

However, those two victories are the Bees’ only wins in their last six games, making them the worst form team of the play-off four.

The London club also have a play-off jinx to shake off if they are to secure a dream Premier League berth, suffering heartache in all of their last six appearances at any level.

Ipswich – 7/2

Mick McCarthy’s side face local rivals Norwich in the first round of the play-offs dogged by the fact that they lost both games to the Canaries during the regular season.

Another defeat to Middlesbrough, on the road, doesn’t bode well for the Tractor Boys either, leaving the Portman Road club as equal underdogs with Brentford for a Premier League jaunt.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.