Fulham head into Thursday night’s EFL Championship Playoff second leg with one foot in the Wembley final. The Cottagers scored twice in the second half to claim a 2-0 win on Monday night. A brilliant Josh Onomah solo goal in the 49th minute put Fulham on the path to an away win. Neeskens Kebano added a second with a gorgeous free-kick in second-half stoppage time.
Cardiff City now have a nearly impossible task on their hands on Thursday night at Craven Cottage. The Bluebirds must overturn their two-goal deficit in London. Neil Harris needs his team to score at least twice to force extra-time. It will take three goals to get Cardiff City in to the Wembley final unless they force penalties.
The winner of the EFL Championship Playoff tie between Fulham and Cardiff City will face off with either Brentford or Swansea. Those two sides play on Wednesday in their second leg semifinal. The winner of the tie between Fulham and Cardiff City will have one fewer day to prepare for the final.
The EFL Championship Playoff Final will take place on Tuesday, August 4. The winner of that final would have just over five weeks to prepare for the Premier League campaign.
Fulham have dominated their series of games this season against Cardiff City. The Cottagers have claimed two wins and a draw in three meetings in all competitions. Their first league game of the season at Cardiff City Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw. The Cottagers then claimed a 2-0 win against the Bluebirds at Craven Cottage in their second meeting during the regular season.
Scott Parker’s side are in form and will certainly fancy their chances of getting through to the final. Six of Fulham’s last seven games in the EFL Championship and playoffs finished with under 2.5 goals scored. Although Fulham have the EFL Championship’s Golden Boot winner, Aleksandar Mitrovic, they have been winning matches with a strong defence. Fulham conceded 48 times in the regular season which was the fourth-lowest number of goals allowed. Meanwhile, Parker’s team were sixth in most goals scored with 64.
Cardiff City did go into the first leg of the playoff semifinal in good form. They finished with EFL Championship season with 12 points from their last 18 possible. Their last three games all ended in wins. Two of those three games, however, came against teams near the bottom of the league’s table (Hull City and Middlesbrough).
Mitrovic did not play in the first leg due to a knock. Bobby Reid led the line for Fulham and could get the start once more. If Mitrovic is available, it is likely Parker will select him. The striker goes into the game on Thursday night with 26 goals in 46 games. Mitrovic has scored three goals in his last five games and could take advantage of Cardiff City’s need to push forward for goals. The Serbian has been linked with a transfer to West Ham this week in a £22 million. With the Cottagers 2-0 up, Parker could keep Mitrovic on the bench for the second leg with eyes on the final.
Parker has nothing to change for Thursday night’s game after the club’s performance on Monday. The only player it appears the manager will be without is forward Ivan Cavaleiro. The forward has a hamstring strain keeping him out of the squad.
Cardiff City head into the game with a few injury worries but nothing major. Isaac Vassell did not play in the first leg but is back in training following a thigh injury. It is likely he will miss the second leg. Matthew Connolly is suffering from an illness and was not included in the team on Monday night. He is likely to remain out on Thursday.
Both teams to score: NO - BET NOW
Fulham’s last two games against Cardiff City ended in wins to nil. Cardiff City’s lack of scoring has shown its head and are likely to struggle once more at Craven Cottage. Cardiff City did score 68 times this season but were guilty of allowing 58 goals against. Cardiff City should struggle once more to get goals.
Under 2.5 goals scored @3/4 - BET NOW
Fulham have seen 27 games finish with under 2.5 goals this season in all competitions. The Cottagers achieved promotion to the Premier League two years ago thanks to swift, silky attacking moves. Parker’s Fulham are built on a strong defence. Six of their last two games finished with under 2.5 goals. Two of those six games were 2-0 wins against Cardiff City.
Josh Onomah to score anytime - BET NOW
Forward Josh Onomah scored a fantastic solo goal against Cardiff City in the first leg to give Fulham a 1-0 win. Onomah has scored five goals in 36 games in all competitions. Onomah fought injury throughout much of the season but has scored or assisted five goals in his last eight games. The forward joined Fulham from Tottenham Hotspur last August on a free deal. Just 23, Onomah continues to be a promising player.
Cardiff City have their backs against the wall. They have to score three goals to win the semifinal tie. However, the Bluebirds should struggle to score just one goal against a very good Fulham team. Fulham have won their last two games against Cardiff City 2-0 and both of those fixtures came after the EFL Championship restart.
Fulham conceded an average of just 1.04 goals per season. They have improved defensively recently and should keep Thursday night’s game low scoring. Their win against Cardiff City could set up a London derby against Brentford at Wembley. Brentford will need to overturn their first-leg deficit as well. Parker has done well at Craven Cottage and should get his team into the playoff final.
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The match is being played at Craven Cottage
This match will kick-off at 19:45 on Thursday 30th July 2020