Who Will Claim Promotion via Playoff Glory This Weekend?

It is one of the biggest, most exciting and potentially dramatic bet365 sports guideweekend of the football season and it is also the very last one. This weekend, just six teams will be in action, two in each of the three Football League Playoff finals which are scheduled to take place at Wembley from Saturday 25th to Monday 27th May inclusive.

The action begins on Saturday with the League Two playoff final which will see south Wales side Newport County seek to earn promotion to League One, but Birkenhead-based Tranmere Rovers will be keen to stop them in their tracks and earn their second successive Playoff promotion victory after winning the Conference Playoff final last year against Boreham Wood.

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This is then followed on Sunday by the League One playoff final which is a repeat of the 1998 League One final between Charlton Athletic and Sunderland. That day, after a dramatic 4-4 draw, Charlton prevailed on penalties to clinch promotion, but the two teams are very different nowadays and Sunday’s game should be a very close run thing.

Finally, on Monday it is the biggest game in football in terms of potential financial reward. With a prospective prize pool of £170 million awaiting the winning team if they can land promotion to the Premier League, the Championship playoff between Aston Villa and Derby County should be a fantastic contest between two sides who are in decent form at the moment.

If you fancy having a bet on the playoff finals this weekend, then head to bet365 Sport for an excellent range of different bets across the three games. Not only can you bet prior to the games kicking off but the In-Play betting service will allow you the opportunity to bet while each game is in progress too. New customers can sign up today using the current bet365 Sport New Customer Promotion which offers a great deal to those signing up right now and when you are a member you can also access a number of other benefits, including access to thousands of live streamed sports events each week.

Let’s now preview each of the games taking place this week starting with Saturday’s League Two game,.

League Two Playoff Final

Newport County v Tranmere Rovers

Key Data

League Performance this Season (46 Games)

  • Tranmere Rovers – 6th – 73 Points, 63 Goals Scored, 50 Conceded (+13)
  • Newport County – 7th – 71 Points, 59 Goals Scored, 59 Conceded (0)

Playoff Semi Final Results

  • 1st Leg – Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Forest Green, Newport County 1-1 Mansfield Town
  • 2nd Leg – Forest Green 1-1 Tranmere Rovers, Mansfield Town 0-0 Newport County (Newport win 5-3 on penalties)

Head to Head This Season

  • 22nd September 2018 – Tranmere Rovers 0-1 Newport County (Franks)
  • 6th April 2019 – Newport County 0-0 Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere’s last win over Newport came back in 1988 in the old Division Four. They have only met four times since then, all relatively recently, Newport winning just the once (earlier this season) with the other three games finishing as a draw.

Head to Head Historic

  • Played – 26
  • Tranmere Wins – 10
  • Draws – 7
  • Newport Wins – 9

Match Preview and Tips

The games between these two teams this season, and in recent years, have all been very closely fought affairs and I see no reason why Saturday’s game at Wembley will be any different. Tranmere may have the edge in experience in this game, they have played in Playoff finals in each of the last three years now, but Newport have played at Wembley recently, when they faced Spurs in an FA Cup tie last season.

Defences have tended to come out on top in these games of late and they will likely be key here. Both sides are solid defensively and it may well be the fact that a single goal could be the difference between the teams.

Newport squeaked through against Mansfield on penalties in what was a very tight game but I think this time their luck may just run out. I am backing Tranmere to land a narrow win here at 6/4 with bet365.

League One Playoff Final

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland

Key Data

League Performance this season (46 games)

  • Charlton – 3rd – 88 Points, 73 Goals Scored, 40 Conceded (+33)
  • Sunderland – 5th – 85 Points – 80 Goals Scored, 47 Conceded (+33)

Playoff Semi Final Results

  • 1st Leg – Sunderland 1-0 Portsmouth, Doncaster 1-2 Charlton Athletic
  • 2nd Leg – Portsmouth 0-0 Sunderland, Charlton Athletic 2-3 Doncaster Rovers (Charlton win 4-3 on penalties)

Head to Head This Season

  • 4th August 2018 – Sunderland 2-1 Charlton Athletic (Maja, Gooch), (Taylor)
  • 5th January 2019 – Charlton Athletic 1-1 Sunderland (James OG), (O’Nien)

It took a 96th minute winner at the Stadium of Light to hand Sunderland a narrow win over Charlton. The Black Cats coming from 1-0 down in the first half to claim the win. The game at the Vally finished all square with a James own goal cancelling out O’Nien’s early strike.

Head to Head Historic

  • Games Played – 78
  • Charlton Wins – 29
  • Draws – 21
  • Sunderland Wins – 28

Match Preview and Tips

Having witnessed all the semifinal ties in League One this year, I can’t see this year’s final being as exciting as the famous 4-4 draw between the teams of over 20 years ago. Sunderland were defensively very strong against Portsmouth in their semifinal and while Charlton struggled at home in the second leg against Doncaster they showed enough over two legs to suggest they can be a real threat.

In truth, I think this game will be the most likely to be decided by a single goal and while I think Sunderland fans deserve a win, especially after coming to Wembley already this season only to lose to Portsmouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, I think it could be a tough day for them again here.

Sunderland may be favourites, but I am backing Charlton to land the win here and they are 2/1 with bet365 to do just that.

Championship Playoff Final

Aston Villa v Derby County

Key Data

League Performance this season (46 games)

  • Aston Villa – 5th – 76 Points, 82 Goals Scored, 61 Conceded (+21)
  • Derby County – 6th – 74 Points, 69 Goals Scored, 54 Conceded (+15)

Playoff Semi Final Results

  • 1st Legs – Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom, Derby County 0-1 Leeds United
  • 2nd Legs – West Brom 1-0 Aston Villa (Villa win 4-3 on penalties), Leeds Utd 2-4 Derby County

Head to Head This Season

  • 10th November 2018 – Derby County 0-3 Aston Villa (McGinn, Abraham, Hourihane)
  • 2nd March 2019 – Aston Villa 4-0 Derby County (Hourihane 2, Abraham, Grealish)

Villa have won both league clashes between the teams comprehensively this season, scoring seven goals without reply. They also have a very solid record against Derby in recent times, in the last nine matches between the teams, Derby have won just one, with Villa winning six and two games finishing in draws.

Head to Head Historic

  • Played – 140
  • Aston Villa Wins – 71
  • Draws – 25
  • Derby County Wins – 44

Match Preview and Tips

Of the three finals coming up this weekend, I feel this has the potential to be the highest scoring and likely the most exciting. Villa and Derby are both in good runs of form and though Villa have by far the better record of the two head to head this season, Derby’s recent form including their amazing comeback win against Leeds in the semifinal proves that they are more than capable of beating anybody on their day.

Villa’s form is formidable of late, but they have shown they can be beaten and I think Derby will be itching to put right their two poor performances against Villa this season. Given how the Rams have performed against top teams like Southampton and Man Utd this season, I can see them performing well under pressure here.

As such, while the smart money may be on Villa, I am backing the underdog again here and taking Derby for the win at 13/5 with bet365.