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Leeds United

Leeds remain Championship title favourites despite slipping to second place on goal difference after suffering a 2-0 loss at Cardiff last Sunday. Lockdown came at just the wrong time for the Whites who had previously won all five league games and looked well on course to gain promotion. They created enough chances in Wales to at least have shared the spoils and were well on top before conceding a sloppy second which sealed their fate. They remain seven points clear of the chasing pack in the automatic promotion berth and now welcome third-placed Fulham to Elland Road for this six-pointer.

The Cottagers were beaten 2-0 at home against Brentford who struck twice late on to snatch the points in a game where a draw would have been the fair outcome. The London team have struggled for consistency and will realistically have to win in Yorkshire to keep top-two hopes alive.

However, Leeds will be desperate not to throw away the foundations laid and with a strong record on home soil, can celebrate success and quickly get back on track.

Birmingham City

Birmingham were pleased to secure a point with Midlands rivals West Brom last weekend and that kept them comfortable in mid-table. It did, however, stretch their winless run to six games although five of those were draws, showing the Blues are still tough to beat.

Visitors to St Andrew’s are Hull, who dropped into the bottom three after a 1-0 home reverse against fellow relegation-threatened rivals Charlton. It continues to be ever so close at the foot with just three points separating the Tigers and the six clubs immediately above them. However, they have recorded five straight losses and their last Championship win was back on New years day, which is an incredible 13 matches ago. The loss of star striker Jarrod Bowen to West Ham on transfer deadline day has proved a huge blow and City face an uphill battle to survive the drop.

Hull were one of the main campaigners to get the season voided and it’s easy to see why with such a dreadful record in 2020. It’s unlikely that run will end in Birmingham and the Blues can continue their improved form with victory.

Barcelona

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are once again locking horns at the summit as they battle to decide this season’s La Liga title. Both are on 68 points with Madrid holding the crucial head to head tiebreaker advantage that decides the winner in Spain. Barcelona were frustrated for long periods before a narrow 1-0 success over Bilbao at the Nou Camp on Tuesday, and previously they had been held to a goalless draw in Seville. Messi, Suarez and Griezmann is a forward line envied by most teams worldwide but they have yet to really produce their best since the resumption and must improve to keep the Catalans in touch, especially with a tricky home match against Atletico Madrid next weekend.

Celta Vigo may be struggling at the wrong end but they did their chances of avoiding relegation a power of good when smashing six past Alaves without reply last Sunday. They followed that up with a tremendous 1-0 victory at top-four chasing Real Sociedad on Wednesday, and suddenly have put daylight between themselves and the bottom three. That was in contrast to previous results which had seen no wins in four without even scoring.

Despite not yet being at their best form, Barcelona will have far too much weaponry for their hosts and can keep the pressure on Real Madrid at the top.

RB Leipzig

Leipzig were disappointed to hand Dortmund the runners up spot after losing 2-0 to them last week, meaning they can only finish third at best now. In truth, Dortmund were much stronger and fully deserved their victory.

Augsburg put a dent in Dusseldorf’s hopes of avoiding automatic relegation when taking a point from there last week and will be happy to have survived, despite an indifferent set of results since the restart. Two wins from eight was enough to stay up and without being prolific scorers, they have found the net on only one occasion in their last four outings. Leipzig know only a win will guarantee third and should have more motivation to finish the job off.

Manchester United

Manchester United have the scent of Wembley in their nostrils and the Red Devils will be confident of reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup after being paired away at lowly Norwich. The Canaries look set for Championship football next term and a 1-0 home reverse against Everton meant back to back losses since the resumption and three straight Premier League losses. They did knock Tottenham out after a penalty shoot-out in round five but it will take a big effort to cause another shock.

United were impressive 3-0 winners over Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Wednesday where French international Anthony Martial took home the match ball following his hat trick. United are challenging for a top-four finish, which had looked most unlikely back in January when they suffered three defeats. But victory at Chelsea kick-started a six-match unbeaten run which has transformed the team, and confidence is growing.

Portuguese international Bruno Fernandes is proving an astute purchase from Sporting Lisbon and with youngsters Daniel James, Mason Greenwood, and Marcus Rashford all catching the eye, these are exciting times for the red half of the city. I suspect United will be all the rage with punters and I confidently expect them to deliver with the minimum of fuss.

Leeds, Birmingham, Barcelona, Leipzig and Man Utd all to win
19/2
Odds are correct at the time of posting

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