MX23RW : Monday, September 20 15:17:34| >> :120:20632:20632:
Jul 30, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Craven Cottage
CardiffCardiff City
Kebano (9')
Reid (50'), Rodak (59'), Christie (69'), Onomah (90+3')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Nelson (8'), Tomlin (47')
Morrison (35'), Bacuna (45+2'), Vaulks (52'), Ralls (62')

Preview: Fulham vs. Cardiff City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Championship playoff semi-final second leg between Fulham and Cardiff City, including team news and predicted lineups.

Cardiff City will endeavour to overturn a 2-0 deficit from their Championship playoff semi-final first leg against Fulham when the two promotion hopefuls lock horns in the second leg at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

Goals from Josh Onomah and Neeskens Kebano ensured that Fulham came away from the Cardiff City Stadium with the upper hand in the tie on Monday.

Match preview

Fulham manager Scott Parker pictured on July 22, 2020© Reuters

In a repeat of their 2-0 victory over Cardiff in the regular season only a couple of weeks ago, Fulham once again produced a dominant performance against the Bluebirds as Scott Parker's men made the most of their journey to the Welsh capital.

Two moments of individual brilliance gave Parker's side a routine victory in the first leg, with Onomah's dazzling solo effort followed up by Kebano's stunning free kick in the dying minutes of the first leg.

The Cottagers had to make do without Golden Boot winner Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was forced to miss out with a minor hamstring problem, but Parker's side were full value for their first-leg triumph and have a point to prove after missing out on automatic promotion by a mere two points on the final day.

Fulham's comfortable victory at the Cardiff City Stadium means that the Cottagers have now strung together an eight-match unbeaten streak in the Championship, and Parker's men are now prepared to welcome Cardiff to a ground where they have picked up seven wins from their last nine.

Cardiff manager Neil Harris licks his lips on February 15, 2020© Reuters

In contrast, Cardiff are now fighting an uphill battle to keep their Premier League prospects alive, but Neil Harris has made it clear that the Bluebirds have another 90 minutes to turn the tie on its head at Craven Cottage.

Harris aimed a sly dig at Fulham following their celebrations after the first leg, claiming that "it looked like they had won the tie", as Cardiff's three-game winning streak came to a disappointing end on their own turf on Monday.

Fulham will certainly be regarded as the favourites to progress to Wembley, where Brentford lie in wait following their 3-2 aggregate victory over Swansea City in their semi-final clash, but Cardiff nevertheless boast a terrific recent record on the road with six wins from their last eight outings away from home.

Despite this period of financial uncertainty in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the playoff final is known as the richest game in football and both Cardiff and Fulham will be fully aware of what is at stake when they step out onto the Craven Cottage turf in midweek.

Fulham Championship form: WWDWDW

Cardiff City Championship form: LLWWWL

Team News

Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring against Cardiff City in the Championship on July 10, 2020© Reuters

Parker has expressed his optimism over Mitrovic's availability for the second leg, with the Serbian having notched up 26 goals in the 2019-20 campaign, including the opener against Cardiff in the July 10 meeting.

Ivan Cavaleiro is Fulham's only long-term injury concern at the minute, but Parker will be reluctant to make too many alterations to his side following a dominant first leg.

However, should Mitrovic come back to spearhead the Fulham attack, Bobby Reid would likely drop down to the bench in what could be the sole change for the Cottagers.

With regards to Cardiff, Harris could recall Josh Murphy to the side, with the 25-year-old in contention to replace Nathaniel Mendez-Laing on the right flank.

The Bluebirds will still be without Isaac Vassell, although fellow long-term absentee Greg Cunningham is reportedly training at full capacity ahead of the second leg.

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Rodak; Christie, Ream, Hector, Bryan; Reed, Cairney; Knockaert, Onomah, Kebano; Mitrovic

Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Smithies; Bacuna, Morrison, Nelson, Bennett; Ralls, Pack; Murphy, Tomlin, Hoilett; Glatzel

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We say: Fulham 2-1 Cardiff City

Fulham are very much on course to reach the 2019-20 Championship playoff final as they look to win promotion straight back to the top flight, but the Cottagers must negotiate another gruelling 90 minutes against a Cardiff City side with similar aspirations of an immediate return to the Premier League.

While the away side ought to feel capable of causing the Fulham defence plenty of problems on Thursday, the potential return of Mitrovic would give the Cottagers an extra attacking edge and we are backing Parker's men to march to victory and book their spot in the final.

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Fulham manager Scott Parker pictured on July 22, 2020
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