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Nic Ladds 1st May 2011 - 14:15

Monday's Championship previews

There are two live games from The Championship and the results will have huge implications as to who seals the second automatic promotion slot.

Before a ball is kicked, Norwich have the upper-hand. They currently occupy that much-coveted second position on 80 points with a +24 goal difference. Cardiff are just one behind on 79 points but have a one better goal difference of +25.

Swansea, who beat Millwall on Saturday, are still in with a chance on 77 points but as they just have one match left, a win for either Cardiff or Norwich would end their hopes.

Cardiff v Middlesbrough

Cardiff kick-off before Norwich so they can, temporarily at least, move into second place with a win over Middlesbrough.

Cardiff (8/15) have only lost three of their 22 home league matches this season and have only lost one of their last nine matches so they are in top form.

Middlesbrough (9/2) seem to have shaken off their shocking form from earlier in the season under the management of club legend Tony Mowbray. They have lost just one match in ten, are comfortably mid-table and relegation seems like a distant threat.

Although Boro are in much better form than they were, eyes must be on a summer of rebuilding and a promotion push next season. With Middlesbrough having nothing left to play for I envisage a pretty simple home victory here.

Boro have lost on their last six league visits to the Welsh capital, although they did win the reverse fixture 1-0 back in December thanks to a Julio Arca penalty.

To get some value on Cardiff I would certainly look towards Cardiff -1 goal at 6/4. The Middlesbrough back-line struggles at the best of times and is slightly injury-hit at the moment.

For something a bit different I like the look of Cardiff to score first at 4/9. The Bluebirds have scored the opening goal in 29 Championship matches this season - more than any other team.

Boro have come from behind to win no fewer than eight times this season though so don't expect them to roll over if they do concede. Cardiff/Middlesbrough double result is my outside tip at 35/1.

Portsmouth v Norwich

Whatever the result of the Cardiff match, all eyes will be on Portsmouth v Norwich come 19:45.

If Cardiff win and Norwich win - then The Canaries' fate will rest in their own hands going into the final game of the season. If Cardiff lose and Norwich win they will seal an impressive second successive promotion and a return to the Premier League after an absence of six seasons.

You would fancy their chances if it goes down to the last game; Norwich have a home tie against Coventry while Cardiff have a tricky away trip to Burnley.

Like Boro, Portsmouth's (11/4) season has petered out and they are comfortably in the middle of the pack. They are in pretty poor form recently though and are bottom of the Championship's 'form table' based on the last six matches.

Norwich (21/20) are soaring with eight wins in their last 14 matches. They have only lost four matches away all season, a joint-low for the league which is hugely impressive for a newly-promoted side.

Simeon Jackson's late winner against Derby last time out was the striker's fifth goal in four games and the red-hot poacher is 5/1 to score first or 5/4 anytime.

Grant Holt is the most obvious choice for goals though, especially as he has 22 already this term. If you fancy him to add to them he is 4/1 first or Even money anytime.

Portsmouth have been guilty of drawing too many at home and have only actually won eight of their 22 at Fratton Park. When you factor in that they are likely to be without their two main attacking threats; winger Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson - it's hard to see them getting a ninth win.

This match is a lot like the first. With one side desperate for promotion playing an opponent with nothing to play for but pride, you have to expect the favourites to win.

Cardiff and Norwich are fighting for the richest prize in football, a place in the Premier League so I don't expect either of them to give up without a fight. A fight that Middlesbrough and Portsmouth don't have in them - therefore the tip of the day have to be a Cardiff and Norwich double at 2.22/1.



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