Cardiff need to do something that has never been done before on Thursday if they are to have any chance of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Never in the history of the Championship play-offs has a side progressed after losing at home in the first leg by more than one goal. Only one side has ever successfully overturned any deficit from a first-leg defeat at home.
That was Derby last year, who famously stunned Leeds at Elland Road.
Incidentally, Cardiff can look to Derby for further inspiration since they also came agonisingly close to reeling Hull after losing 3-0 at Pride Park in the 2016 play-off semi-final.
Cardiff’s task, therefore, is not impossible, but it is highly unlikely that we’ll see them at Wembley next week.
After all, there is also the issue that Fulham are a far better team than Cardiff and will be confident of putting this one to bed early on.
Their victory came courtesy of two absolutely sensational goals on Monday night and it highlights the threat that this Fulham team carries.
With Cardiff in desperate need of a goal, this second leg should be stretched from the off, and Fulham will be a threat on the counter. They should ease through to a second play-off final in three years.
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Fulham relied on goals from midfielders Josh Onomah and Neeskens Kebano in their win at Cardiff on Monday due to the absence of talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic, who pulled out with a minor hamstring injury.
The Cottagers’ record without Mitrovic in the team is actually excellent in general. With six wins and a draw from the seven games that Mitrovic has missed this season, Fulham almost look a better team without him in the side.
However, he is undoubtedly one of the best players in the Championship and his 26 goals have played an enormous part in Fulham’s promotion campaign.
Despite their excellent result in his absence, Mitrovic will go straight into the starting line up assuming he is fit and he will be desperate to prove that Fulham are every bit as good with him in the team as they are without him.
He will be equally desperate to rediscover his goalscoring touch ahead of next week’s play-off final.
Cardiff’s season is dangerously close to ending at the penultimate hurdle, and they will surely do their utmost to prevent such an eventuality.
One would have to imagine that Neil Harris’s men will throw the kitchen sink at Fulham at some stage if they are to haul themselves back into this tie.
The Bluebirds have the ability to score goals – they have the fourth best goalscoring record in the Championship this season – but they also have a tendency to concede them as well, conceding more goals than any side in the top nine in the second division.
It is simultaneously easy to see Cardiff scoring on Thursday night and hard to imagine them keeping a clean sheet, especially if they leave themselves exposed in the search for a route back into this.
As an aside, if both teams do score and Fulham do win, that obviously means that the over 2.5 goals market will click too.
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