Fulham to edge first leg: Derby vs Fulham EFL Championship play-off semi-final preview

Derby take on Fulham in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final, with both coming into this huge game in decent form. Infogol’s Analyst previews the game, using expected goals (xG) to generate the best bets.

Derby Expected Goals (xG)

A torrid run of form (2 wins in 13) meant that Derby’s play-off hopes appeared to be in the balance with three games to go, but two wins and a draw secured the final play-off place.

Deserved wins over second placed Cardiff (xG: DER 2.0 – 1.3 CAR) and relegated Barnsley (xG: DER 2.9 – 0.8 BAR) sandwiched an extraordinarily fortunate point away at Aston Villa, a game in which Derby once again showcased a weak defence (xG: AST 4.4 – 0.8 DER).

In fact, the Rams were very fortunate to make it to the post-season, as based on performances over the course of the campaign, they were only the ninth best team in the division.

Infogol Championship Expected Goals (xG) table 

They have over-performed their underlying stats by quite a way this season, and come into the play-offs with the worst defence of the four teams in contention. Plenty of improvements are needed from Gary Rowett’s men if they are to achieve promotion.

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Fulham Expected Goals (xG)

Fulham’s bid for automatic promotion fell just short on the final day of the season, as relegation threatened Birmingham ended their 23 match unbeaten run with a deserved 3-1 win to secure their safety (xG: BI 2.7 – 1.7 FUL).

It remains to be seen how much of an effect that disappointment will have on Fulham, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to a rare defeat. 

Slavisa Jokanovic’s team were rather fortunate to have been in contention for the second automatic promotion place, as they were only the sixth best team over the course of the season.

Infogol rolling six game xG match up

Looking at the rolling six game xG data for the two sides, it is clear to see that coming into this game, Fulham have had the better process over the course of the season, with Derby’s performances trending towards negative xGD over the latter stages.

 

Conclusion

A cagey first leg is anticipated, but Fulham are the better of the two sides, not only recently as the rolling xG match up shows, but also over the course of the season. The Cottagers can exploit Derby’s defensive weakness, and look a good bet at 6/4 to take a first leg lead.

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Fulham to win @ 6/4

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