Birmingham might be 83/100 favourites to beat Blackpool in the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final second leg on Wednesday but it is the Seasiders who are odds-on to make it through to a final against West Ham.
Ian Holloway’s men go into the game with a lead to protect after a Curtis Davies own goal gave them a 1-0 victory in the first leg and, with Birmingham having won just once in their last six games, they will be confident of avoiding defeat and making it through to Wembley at 13/20.
While four draws, a defeat and just one win from their last six games suggests Blues are running out of steam at just the wrong time, Blackpool appear to be clicking into gear just when it matters most.
They are unbeaten in eight, have won five games in that sequence and, remarkably for a team not renowned for their defensive prowess, have kept six clean sheets and conceded only three goals in this time.
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Only two teams have drawn more home games than Birmingham this season, while only Cardiff and Watford have seen more away games end without a winner than Blackpool.
So while the Tangerines have a reputation for scoring goals – they have the third-highest total in the league – it could be their mean defence which proves decisive against Birmingham, even though they have conceded as many goals as relegated Portsmouth over the season as a whole.
Blues, who had the fifth-meanest defence over the course of the season, have found clean sheets much harder to come by than Blackpool have of late.
Chris Hughton’s men have shut out the opposition just once in their last 11 matches, while the Seasiders have scored in 21 of their last 22 fixtures against Championship teams.
All this suggests that Birmingham could find it difficult to beat Blackpool, despite their status as odds-on favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market and their home advantage.
Nevertheless, Blues have lost just once at home in the league this season, suggesting a win at 3/1 might still be beyond Blackpool.
This points to a draw in tomorrow’s game, which would not be too much of a surprise given only two teams have drawn more home games than Birmingham this season, while only Cardiff and Watford have seen more away games end without a winner than Blackpool.
Crucially, this result would see Holloway’s side through to the final, while at odds of 5/2 a successful £25 free bet on a draw would secure winnings of £87.50.
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Recommended bet: Birmingham to draw with Blackpool @ 5/2
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