Exciting Huddersfield to secure promotion at Reading's expense
Fleet-footed Terriers look to have the class edge at Wembley
Championship playoff final
Monday 3pm, Sky Sports 1
When the Championship playoff semi-final ties were confirmed, many punters anticipated it would be Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday contesting today's Wembley showdown.
However, Huddersfield and Reading defied the odds in the semi-finals and will do battle in north London, where a place in the Premier League, and the estimated £170m windfall that comes with it, is the prize for the winner.
The Terriers are bidding to return to England’s top flight for the first time since 1972, while if Jaap Stam's Royals are victorious it would see Reading promoted to the Premier League following a four-season absence.
Stam's men were clear underdogs against in-form Fulham in their semi-final clash, but the former Manchester United defender outflanked Cottagers manager Slavisa Jokanovic, avoiding defeat at Craven Cottage before making home advantage count at the Madejski Stadium.
Huddersfield manager David Wagner produced a similar masterclass to see off Carlos Carvalhal’s strongly fancied Sheffield Wednesday.
The tricky Terriers failed to take their chances at the John Smith's Stadium but fought off everything Wednesday threw at them at Hillsborough to eventually advance on penalties.
There's little to separate the two sides in terms of quality, and with such high rewards at stake much may depend on who can hold their nerve and deliver the soundest defensive display.
Both regular-season meetings between the two teams ended in 1-0 home triumphs and, given both teams have scored in just four of the last 16 Championship playoff finals, another cagey Wembley affair looks likely.
Huddersfield’s midfield pair Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg excelled in defeating Wednesday during the semi-finals and are players Wagner will rely on to win their personal battles in the centre of the park.
The Terriers play fast, fluent football and have the players at their disposal to trouble Reading, who have lost each of their three previous playoff final appearances.
The guile of fleet-footed trio Elias Kachunga, Rajiv van La Parra and Nahki Wells should concern Stam, while Chelsea loanee Isaiah Brown and giant German Collin Quaner gives their squad some extra quality.
If Reading go on the offensive that could play to the counter-attacking strengths of Huddersfield, who possess more quality and are worth backing to reach the Premier League.
Huddersfield to be promoted
2pts 8-11 Skybet, bet365
Huddersfield to win & Under 2.5 goals
1pt 10-3 BoyleSports, Ladbrokes