Picking a play-off winner is notoriously difficult – some might even be tempted to say it’s a lottery – but if there’s an accepted guide, it’s that the form team going into the semi-finals is the most likely to emerge the winner.
At one stage it looked as though this team was going to be Reading, who, until recently, were on a run of eight league wins in a row.
However, the Royals look to have peaked too soon as they won only one of their last four league games.
Alarmingly, this sequence included a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of relegated Sheffield United.
Fortunately for Reading, their play-off semi-final opponents tomorrow evening have suffered from a similar blip.
Pushing for automatic promotion until an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough in their penultimate league game, Cardiff’s points haul was, like Reading’s, 11 from their final six games.
With this in mind, there is not a great deal to choose between the teams, with the Bluebirds the narrow favourites to progress to Wembley at 18/25.
That said, Reading are the more-fancied out of the two to take a first-leg lead with them to the Welsh capital at 11/10, with Cardiff at 21/10.
It could be, though, that a draw is the best bet, with the two teams having played out a 1-1 draw the last time they met at the Madejski. A successful £10 bet on a similar result would return £70 at odds of 6/1.
Should the match play out this way then Cardiff will be favoured by football betting enthusiasts to progress to Wembley, where they will be looking to go one better than last year.
The 2010 play-off final saw Blackpool twice come from behind to shock the Bluebirds 3-2 and take their place in the Premier League.
A successful £10 bet on Cardiff to seal play-off glory would secure £35 with bwin.com’s odds of 5/2. New customers can register here to receive a £25 free bet.