Sunday sees an 80,000+ crowd descend on Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy final. Tom Carnduff takes a look at the betting.
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Portsmouth v Sunderland (Checkatrade Trophy final, Wembley Stadium, 1430 GMT, Sky Sports Football)
While the Checkatrade Trophy may not be everyone's favourite tournament, this is set to be a fantastic occasion with a record-breaking crowd of over 80,000 fans expected on Sunday.
It's a game between two clubs who have been through a lot over the past couple of seasons. Sunderland's well documented decline to League One has been broadcast on Netflix while Portsmouth went from FA Cup winners to England's fourth tier in the space of ten years.
It's also two teams who are on the verge of promotion back to the Sky Bet Championship. While the main focus for both will be on securing promotion, a trophy at Wembley will signal that they really are a club on the way back up.
One of the many other reasons that will make this a great final is the fact that it really is a game that can go either way. Portsmouth and Sunderland are next to each other in the standings, with just one point separating the pair.
This has all the makings of a game that will require extra-time and potentially penalties. Both have been in good form with wins in recent weeks, but there have been a large number of draws throughout their campaigns.
It's remarkable that Sunderland sit fourth in the Sky Bet League One table when they have lost just two of their 37 games this season. The 16 draws they have seen have been holding them back and could potentially cost them a spot in the top-two.
Half of those draws have come on the road and it's been a feature of their away trips in the second-half of the season. Five of their last seven games away from the Stadium of Light have finished with the points shared.
Kenny Jackett's Pompey did get the better of the Black Cats when they met just before Christmas. Gareth Evans, Ronan Curtis and Ben Thompson all getting on the scoresheet in a 3-1 victory.
Finals are often cagey affair with players afraid to make the mistake that could cost their team the trophy. Both sides have creative players here but there will be that reluctance at the times, especially given the huge crowd they will be playing in front of.
The draw is available at 11/5 at that looks good value based on the track record this season. 10/1 is available as a single for victory in extra-time, depending on which team you fancy, but that may be worth an investment as there's an extra 30 minutes of playing time in that period.
Both teams are also priced up at less than 2/1 to win on penalties, which shows why the value is there on taking the 11/5 on a draw and the game potentially getting to the point of a shootout.
Sunderland are sweating on the fitness of Will Grigg with manager Jack Ross hopeful that he will be available for the contest. As we know from his time at Wigan, the striker is one for the big occasion.
Probably a bet to keep an eye on for when team news does come out but if he makes it, there's a price of 21/10 available on Grigg scoring anytime in 90 minutes.
There are Premier League contests on Sunday, but I'd encourage people to watch this game. I'd have little surprise if people said that they hadn't seen a single Checkatrade Trophy this season, but this is one to make an effort for.
Portsmouth boss Jackett has said recently that "everybody is buzzing, you can tell. The whole of Portsmouth is excited, which is great to see, and the players pick up on it."
Ross added "this competition has allowed us to payback the supporters for their loyalty and commitment. There were a lot of unknowns at the start but they have stuck with us throughout."
Both managers are spot-on with their analysis. Forget the arguments that have surrounded this competition in recent years, when it comes down to a potential 120 minutes of football and maybe penalties, every single supporter will be feeling the emotions of any cup final.
It's not a game for Shaun Harvey or the EFL to boast about how big the crowd was, it's for the supporters who were left to express their frustration and sadness for all to see over eight episodes of on-demand TV.
It's for those who have to experience the feeling that their club have hit rock bottom. Trips to Wembley don't come-by very often, and a win on Sunday will feel like the good times really are on the way back.
Sunday afternoon is set to be a great event in the capital city, and one where both sets of supporters will be desperate to see their team walk up the famous Wembley stairs.
Score prediction: Portsmouth 1-1 Sunderland (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
Best bet: Draw after 90 minutes at 11/5
- Portsmouth are unbeaten in their last seven meetings with Sunderland in all competitions (W5 D2), including a 3-1 victory in a league meeting at Fratton Park this season.
- Sunderland have only lost one of their four meetings with Portsmouth in cup competition (W2 D1), though it was their last such meeting in an FA Cup tie in January 2010.
- Both Portsmouth and Sunderland are playing in their first ever EFL Trophy final. This will also be the first ever final in the competition between two teams to have previously played in the Premier League.
- Either Portsmouth or Sunderland will become only the second side to have won both the English top-flight and the EFL Trophy, with Wolverhampton Wanderers the only side to have done so so far.
- Portsmouth have only lost one of their five games at the new Wembley Stadium (W3 D1), losing the FA Cup final 0-1 to Chelsea in 2010. They’ve kept a clean sheet in each of their other four games at the ground since it re-opened.
- Sunderland haven’t won a competitive game at Wembley Stadium since the 1973 FA Cup final against Leeds (D1 L4 since), losing their only previous appearance at the ‘new’ Wembley (1-3 vs Man City in the 2014 League Cup final).
- Portsmouth have won all seven of their EFL Trophy matches this season, with no side netting more goals in the competition than Pompey (16).
- Sunderland have conceded just one goal in their seven EFL Trophy matches this season, fewer than any other side.
- Gareth Evans is Portsmouth’s top scorer in the EFL Trophy this season, scoring three goals from just four shots on target.
- Sunderland have had the most different goalscorers in the EFL Trophy this season (11), with Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka the only player to score more than once for the Black Cats in the competition (2).
Odds correct at 1350 GMT (28/03/19)