Derby County V Queens Park Rangers – Saturday 24th May. 3PM. Sky Sports 1
The Champions League final in Lisbon may steal all the headlines ahead of this Saturday’s feast of football, but the £100 million match at Wembley is an absolute colossal clash in itself.
After 48 gruelling matches, just 90 minutes stand in the way of either QPR or Derby ending their season on the ultimate high. With a place in next season’s Premier League on offer, this is not a match to be missed.
Who will win at Wembley?
Up the R’s?
Way back in August, before a ball had even been kicked, QPR had been hotly tipped to bounce straight back to the Premier League by walking away with the Championship title.
For the first few weeks that looked a genuine possibility, but Redknapp’s side soon found out that life in the Championship isn’t easy and once a lengthy injury to key striker Charlie Austin essentially saw their hopes of automatic promotion vanish.
Nevertheless, the Hoops are now just 90 minutes away from securing their return to the top-flight and will be confident ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
With Charlie Austin back from injury and the likes of Ravel Morrison and Joey Barton performing well, Redknapp will fancies his team’s chances. It was a stuttered end to the regular campaign, but an impressive semi-final win over Wigan Athletic will have restored the faith.
Redknapp is no stranger to Wembley, having guided Portsmouth to the FA Cup in 2008. Can Harry Houdini work his magic once more?
In-Form Derby Favourites At Wembley
Despite all of QPR’s credentials, Derby will be the favourites to seal promotion.
The Rams not only finished third in the Championship table, they did so in spite of an awful start under former boss Nigel Clough – which makes their achievements even more impressive.
In fact, current manager Steve McClaren was on the coaching staff at QPR for a couple of months before trading Loftus Road for the iPro Stadium hot-seat. His time under Redknapp could give him the tactical edge in this epic battle.
Derby are unbeaten in eight matches, including an incredible 6-2 aggregate victory over Brighton to book their place in the final. Meanwhile, six and half years after his worst night in football, McClaren will be determined to enjoy a far better outcome on his Wembley return.
The Rams have been irresistible in recent months, their fans will be demanding one finally push for promotion here.
Derby County V Queens Park Rangers Betting
Bookmaker Bet365 have priced Derby as the slight favourites at 13/10, while both the draw and QPR win are each available at 11/5.
In a match of this magnitude it may take a moment of brilliance to open the scoring and both teams have a number of talented players capable of producing that magic.
However, it is Derby’s Chris Martin who stands out as the best candidate. The Rams striker has found the target 22 times this season, including eight first goals. Opening the account at Wembley would be a fitting way to cap a wonderful year.
Chris Martin to score first is 5/1 to score first with Bet365
Derby’s incredible form, combined with McClaren’s previous dealings with QPR, certainly has the potential to give them the edge.
The Rams have been brilliant in recent months and will be looking to stamp their authority from the off. QPR do appear to be quite vulnerable at times, and if they concede first it will be a long way back for Redknapp’s men. Expect Derby to capitalise.
HT/FT: Derby/Derby is 11/4 with Bet365