Football League expert @TonyIncenzo gives his best bets and Championship predictions ahead of a huge round of fixtures in the Football League...


ALL roads lead to Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the epic EFL Championship Play-Off Final.

A betting frenzy will ensue because it is universally described as football’s richest game providing a massive financial incentive of promotion to the Premier League. In effect, the winners will pocket at least £150 million even if they finish rock bottom of the top flight table next season.

Here is my extensive preview to assist your analysis of Championship betting

Leeds United v Southampton

  • Sunday 26th May 2024, Kick-off 3pm

  • At Wembley Stadium 

  • Score prediction: Leeds 3-1.
     


Championship Head-to-Head 2023/24

  • Saturday 30th September 2023 - Southampton 3 Leeds United 1

Adam Armstrong grabbed two for Saints (2 and 35 mins) during the first half complementing Will Smallbone’s contribution (31 mins). Pascal Struijk (58 mins) replied for Leeds United. Attendance: 30,372

  • Saturday 4th May 2024 - Leeds United 1 Southampton 2

The Saints combination of Adam Armstrong (18 minutes) and Will Smallbone (35 mins) were at it again sandwiching a Joel Piroe effort for Leeds (21 mins). This result on the final day of our regular season terminated Leeds United’s slim chance of attaining automatic promotion. Attendance: 36,766

Leeds United Play-Off Semi-Final Review

  • First Leg: Norwich City 0 Leeds United 0

The 0-0 outcome was justified since this contest was severely lacking in goalscoring opportunities. Josh Sargent went closest for Norwich City heading wide of the post when nicely placed.

Meanwhile, Leeds United’s Crysencio Summerville supplied their best moment being denied by keeper Angus Gunn. Attendance: 26,982

  • Second Leg: Leeds United 4 Norwich City 0 (Aggregate 4-0)

Leeds United emphatically secured a Wembley berth courtesy of net bulgers via Ilia Gruev (7 minutes), Joel Piroe (20 mins), Georginio Rutter (40 mins) and Crysencio Summerville (68 mins).

For the Championship player of the year Summerville, this simple six yard tap-in was his 21st goal of 2023/24. Interesting to note that Leeds have never won promotion through the Play-Offs in five previous attempts. Attendance: 36,384

Leeds Quotes

Leeds manager Daniel Farke said: “We are be ready for Wembley. My players must reduce the load and calm their nerves. We are in the Play-Off Final and we want to return to Premier League status at the first time of asking.

“An important role in our preparation has been to fully bear Southampton in mind. They possess different principles and different set-ups. So in analysing our opponents we devised our game plan. We need to be dominant - bringing our strengths on to the pitch with confidence and momentum.

“Another chapter of Leeds United history is set to be written and my entire focus is on this huge occasion. When it comes to the crunch, our club is united like no one else. It will be a great experience.”

Leeds United Fact File

  • Final position in the Championship: 3rd 

  • Leading scorer: Crysencio Summerville – 21 League, Cup and Play-Off goals

  • Last appearance in the Premier League: 2022/23

Southampton Play-Off Semi-Final Review

  • First Leg: West Bromwich Albion 0 Southampton 0

Like the other Semi-Final First Leg at Carrow Road, it was an extremely edgy affair producing gritty scoreless stalemate.

Kyle Walker-Peters drilled across the face of goal for Southampton whilst West Brom’s Grady Diangana forced two sprawling saves from visiting custodian Alex McCarthy. However neither outfit could break the deadlock. Attendance: 25,367

  • Second Leg: Southampton 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 (Aggregate 3-1)

On the scoresheet for Southampton in a dynamic second half performance were Will Smallbone (49 mins) and Adam Armstrong two (78 mins penalty and 86 mins).

Saints’ foremost marksman Armstrong now has 23 goals this season. Cedric Kipre (90+7 mins) nodded West Bromwich Albion’s late consolation. Attendance: 30,712

Southampton Quotes

Southampton manager Russell Martin said: “I am really pleased for my team reaching the Play-Off Final. Personally it is an exceptional honour for me to guide this club to Wembley.

“There is a responsibility of giving all our loyal supporters something to remember in winning promotion and I will never take it for granted. So we just need to make sure we end our campaign in the right way.”

Southampton Fact File

  • Final position in the Championship: 4th 

  • Leading scorer: Adam Armstrong – 23 goals in the Championship and Play-Offs.

  • Last appearance in the Premier League: 2022/23


Championship Betting Predictions

The Championship is the second tier of English football.

Each season, the top two teams automatically earn promotion to the Premier League, with teams placed between third and sixth entering the playoffs. The bottom three will be relegated to League One.

https://www.888sport.com/blog/football-prediction

By far the most-watched non-topflight league in the world, the Championship is renowned for its competitiveness. While there are huge gaps between Championship salaries, there is no denying the level of parity.

Some huge clubs are involved each season, but that is no guarantee of success, even when taking on teams with much smaller budgets and stadia.

Reaching the Premier League not only gives a chance to go toe-to-toe with Manchester City, Arsenal and the other powerhouse clubs.

It brings unparalleled riches each season, which can completely change the fortunes of a club in both the short and long term. Stakes in the Championship are incredibly high. 

The Championship was known as the First Division until 2004. Prior to the founding of the Premier League in the early 1990s, it was named the Second Division. The trophy has not been altered over that period, however. 

Since being restructured in 2004, 56 teams have participated in the Championship. Cardiff City have the longest overall tenure with 18 seasons.

Of current teams, Birmingham City have the longest Championship active spell with 13 straight campaigns in the second tier.

There have been 13 different champions with six winning the title twice.

Championship Tips This Weekend

From analysis of the best teams in Championship history through to match predictions for tomorrow, 888Sport have you covered when it comes to the Championship.

Our experts provide year-round analysis of the division, including weekly match tips. 

Wondering who is a good bet to be the Championship top scorer? Trying to find the teams to include in your Saturday afternoon accumulator? Whatever you’re after, 888Sport’s diverse selection of Championship articles can help you out.

The 2023-24 season sees three Championship stalwarts return in Plymouth Argyle, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday.

Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton will be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking after suffering relegation from the Premier League. 

When making your correct score prediction for the Championship, you have tonnes of information to weigh up. Injury news and head-to-head records are important, plus you can dive deep into statistics both traditional and advanced. 

Championship Predictions For Today

Bettors can find Championship predictions on this page from the opening of the season in late summer through to the Playoffs.

All manner of markets will be covered beyond the standard match winner picks, including both teams to score, total goals over/under and goal scorer bets.

If it’s the latest round of midweek Championship fixtures or tips for this Saturday, 888Sport’s expert team of betting tipsters will have some wagers for you to consider. 

Every punter wants some great free sports betting tips. Through our numerous prediction pages, 888Sport has a catalogue of expert predictions, such as football prediction.

Look out for today's Championship prediction pieces and our weekly Championship review articles. 

Championship Outright Odds

Championship outright odds for 2023-24 tab the three teams relegated from the Premier League as the favourites for promotion.

Leicester are handed the shortest price of that trio, followed by Leeds, Southampton, Middlesbrough, Ipswich and Norwich. 

Before the majority of transfer business has been conducted, Leicester are 11/8 favourites for promotion and priced at 5/1 to win the title. The Foxes finished atop the Championship table in 2013-14.

Leeds topped the league with 93 points in 2019-20 under the stewardship of the iconic Marcelo Bielsa, while Southampton finished as runners-up during their last Championship campaign in 2011-12.

When it comes to Championship relegation odds, Plymouth Argyle and Rotherham United are joint favourites for the drop at 7/4.

Rotherham only finished six points above the drop zone last season. Queens Park Rangers sit at 11/4, while Cardiff City are 3/1 after placing 21st in 2022-23.

Having lost to Luton Town in last season’s Playoff final, Coventry City are 7/4 to finish in the top six in 2023-24. Following a fourth-place finish last term, Middlesbrough are Evens for a top six berth. 

Championship Teams 2023-24

  • Birmingham City

  • Blackburn Rovers

  • Bristol City

  • Cardiff City

  • Coventry City

  • Huddersfield Town

  • Hull City

  • Ipswich Town

  • Leeds United

  • Leicester City

  • Middlesbrough

  • Millwall

  • Norwich City

  • Plymouth Argyle

  • Preston North End

  • Queens Park Rangers

  • Rotherham United

  • Sheffield Wednesday

  • Southampton

  • Stoke City

  • Sunderland

  • Swansea City

  • Watford

  • West Bromwich Albion


*All of our 888 Experts picks and betting tips can be considered as a suggestion only.*

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Tony is an experienced football broadcaster who has worked for Clubcall, Capital Gold, IRN Sport, talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. 

His devotion to Queens Park Rangers saw him reach 50 years without missing a home game in April 2023.

Tony is also a Non-League football expert having visited more than 2,500 different football grounds in his matchday groundhopping.

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo.