Bournemouth hold a slender 1-0 lead in the Championship play-off semi-final as we head to the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday. Mark O'Haire previews the second leg...
"With a place at Wembley and potential promotion on the line, EFL play-off semi-final second legs produce 0.45 goals per-game more on average than their first leg counterparts"
Brentford v Bournemouth
Saturday May 22, 12:30
Brentford rue Mbeumo miss
Brentford will have to come from behind in the second leg of the Championship play-off semi-finals if they are to reach another Wembley final with Thomas Frank's team hoping a terrible late miss by Bryan Mbeumo at the Vitality Stadium does not prove costly.
The only goal of the game came after the visitors were hit on the counter-attack 10 minutes into the second half. Frank responded by making a triple substitution, sending on Mbeumo, Emiliano Marcondes and the fit-again Rico Henry with the Bees providing more final-third threat thereafter, fashioning the game's best opportunity which went begging.
An unchallenged Mbeumo failed to take the golden chance to equalise when he contrived to shoot wide when sliding in to meet Christian Norgaard's low ball across the box as the Bees probed for a late response on the south coast.
Nevertheless, Frank insisted Brentford are confident they will overturn the deficit, saying, "There's still massive belief in the dressing room we can turn it around. This is just like we're going out in the second half and we're 1-0 down, so there's plenty of time still to turn this around. I thought we were the better side in the second half and we had our chances."
Bournemouth impress in first leg
Bournemouth manager Jonathan Woodgate accepted his side "still have it all to do" despite pocketing a well-earned 1-0 success at the Vitality Stadium on Monday evening. Arnaut Danjuma scored the only goal early in the second half in front of a crowd of around 2,000 home fans, to put the Cherries in pole position to qualify for the Wembley final.
Dutch winger Danjuma finished off a fine counter-attacking move from David Brooks' precise through ball to slot home the decisive strike. Bournemouth did create the bulk of the chances, although the hosts were thankful for Bees' forward Bryan Mbeumo failing to convert the best chance of the game when the goal was gaping from six yards.
Speaking post-match, Woodgate said: "It's half-time, it's a slight advantage. We know how good Brentford are at home, we know how good the players are and the team is, they've been in this situation before and they've got that experience. It's far from over."
Steve Cook was forced off in the first half with a knee injury but Woodgate hopes his centre-back and captain will be fit for the second leg.
Brentford and Bournemouth have been regular competitors this century, with the vast majority of meetings arriving outside the top-two tiers. Nevertheless, the duo have shared a reasonably balanced W10-D6-L9 return across all league encounters since the start of 2000/01, with the Bees boasting an impressive W7-D4-L1 return when hosting the Cherries.
Brentford 1.9420/21 have failed in their previous nine play-off attempts - the most without winning a promotion in the history of the EFL play-offs - and the Bees miserable run continued on Monday night. The hosts have now pocketed just a solitary success in their past 14 play-off games (W1-D3-L10) but must win on Saturday to keep their season alive.
Bournemouth 3.953/1 showcased their individual quality in the first leg, extending their impressive performance against top-six rivals. Indeed, no side earned more points against the Championship's elite and the Cherries have now claimed W6-D2-L3 against the leading lights this term, including W2-D2-L1 on their travels (the defeat arriving at Brentford).
With a place at Wembley and potential promotion on the line, EFL play-off semi-final second legs produce 0.45 goals per-game more on average than their first leg counterparts as a sense of desperation and urgency creeps into play. Going back to the beginning of 2000, 49% of second leg fixtures have seen Over 2.5 Goals and 56% deliver Both Teams To Score.
With that in mind, there's potential to support a goal-heavy game at a nice price on Saturday afternoon with BTTS available at 1.875/6, odds that suggest just a 53% chance of succeeding. Considering the offensive quality on display in West London this weekend, as well as game state surrounding the tie, I'm anticipating a much more end-to-end encounter.
During the regular season, Brentford bagged in all bar nine of their 46 league outings, including 18 of 23 on home soil. The Bees were only second to champions Norwich in terms of Expected Goals (xG) output with record goalscorer Ivan Toney leading the hosts' attack.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth notched in 36 of their 46 fixtures, firing only six blanks on the road, with the Cherries grabbing a goal in eight of 10 tussles with fellow top-six teams. The visitors also generated the division's third-best xG figure in games as guests in 2020/21.
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