At first glance, Derby v Birmingham would appear to be something of a mismatch: Derby struggled in the Championship last season, while Birmingham won the Carling Cup and were only relegated from the Premier League after a late-season collapse.
To make matters worse, Derby had the fourth-worst home record in the 2010-11 Championship, losing almost half of their matches at Pride Park.
However, Nigel Clough’s side actually go into the match as slight favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
Derby are available at odds of 29/20 to pick up all three points, with a draw priced at 21/10 and a Birmingham win available at 33/20.
Indeed, Birmingham are one of the surprise contenders in bwin’s Championship relegation market with odds of 5/1 to finish in the bottom three, while Derby are further back at 6/1.
The Blues’ abrupt change in fortunes can be explained by their activity in the transfer market this summer, with many of their most seasoned campaigners having been allowed to leave.
Ben Foster, Barry Ferguson, Roger Johnson, Lee Bowyer, Kevin Phillips, Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardner, James McFadden, Stuart Parnaby and Maik Taylor are among the players to have left, while Alex McLeish has also jumped ship to take over the managerial reigns at rivals Aston Villa.
Meanwhile, Derby manager Nigel Clough has been busy reshaping his squad in a bid to build on the club’s 19th-place finish last season, with Frank Fielding, Nathan Tyson and Jason Shackell all added over the summer.
A 2-0 win over Aston Villa earlier this week suggests Clough’s work has paid off, while Birmingham’s most recent friendly result – a 2-1 defeat to Everton – suggests new boss Chris Hughton still has work to do.
With this in mind, a bet on Derby to put their bad home form behind them and win their first game of the season looks worth a punt.
However, it might be possible to reduce risk and maximise winnings at the same time by betting on Derby to be ahead at half time rather than the full-time whistle.
The Rams would have had the eighth-best home record in last season’s Championship had points been counted after 45 rather than 90 minutes.
As such, odds of 9/4 on Derby to be beating Birmingham at the interval look tempting.
A £25 free bet on Derby to be ahead at the break, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £81.25.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Championship odds.
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