Cardiff will be hosting West Ham on May 3 at Cardiff City Stadium in Wales as the two Championship League teams kick off their two-legged playoff semi final. The ultimate goal of course at the end of all the playoff rounds is to earn promotion into the English Premier League.
Malky Mackay, manager of Cardiff, believes his team will be the underdog going into the tie and that suits him just fine. Mackay used to play with West Ham and knows the London club is expected to make it back to the EPL as soon as possible. In fact, West Ham was the favourites to win the Championship League before the start of the season because of the size of the club and the finances they have available, but Reading took the title and Southampton were also promoted as runners up.
West Ham might be disappointed that they have to enter the playoffs, but Cardiff is delighted. Mackay said any of the league teams would probably be underdogs against West Ham and with a little luck the Hammers might have won the league. Instead, they finished in third place with 86 points, just two behind Southampton and three behind Reading. They had 24 wins, 14 draws and eight losses on the season and outscored the opposition 81 to 48.
Cardiff secured the final playoff spot on the weekend with a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace and finished third in the league with 75 points from 19 wins 18 draws and nine losses. They outscored their opponents 66 to 53. The winner of this playoff tie will then face the winner of the Birmingham vs Blackpool series and the two will meet off in the final play-off at Wembley Stadium.
Cardiff City goes into the game on a 10-game unbeaten streak, but they’ve been in this position before and haven’t been successful yet in the playoff system. They’ll likely be looking to punish West Ham on a counter attack or a set piece, but this is leaving things to chance. You have to create scoring opportunities if you’re going to make it to the EPL not hope they fall at your feet.
Cardiff won 11, drew seven and lost five at home this season. However, they drew five of their final six home games and were beaten 2-0 by West Ham there in March. Midfielder Peter Whittingham will be depended on for offence. He had 12 goals during the regular season and set up 13 others. Striker Kenny Miller will also have to produce after scoring 10 goals in the regular season. Striker Joe Mason finished the year with nine goals.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce might make the mistake of going with just one striker up front, which will be Vaz Te or Carlton Cole. Their midfielders know where the back of the net is though as captain Kevin Nolan scored 11 goals this season with Mark Noble adding eight. Cole finished the season with 14 tallies while Vaz Te managed 10.
Predictions and Betting Odds
This might be a bit of a conservative game to start the series and look for a draw or a one-goal West Ham win.
Sportsbook William Hill lists the latest odd of a Cardiff win at 9/5 and a West Ham victory at 17/10 and a draw at 2/1.