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Reading’s hard-fought play-off semi-final win over Fulham has set them up with a massive chance to join Newcastle and Brighton’s Premier League party. The fact that the two sides were separated only by a Yann Kermorgant penalty during 180 minutes of football shows the competitive nature of these playoffs.
Reading will play a tough game at Wembley. There is little to choose between any of those finishing 3rd-6th in the Championship this season and so the small details may decide the final. Here we look at three things Reading need to do to win:
Reading achieved 3rd place in the league by being brave and attacking the opposition. To abandon that now could throw them completely out of sync. So a brave attacking performance is required. Opportunities must be taken when they come along, so getting all of their goal scorers on the field (formation allowing) could be crucial.
Kermorgant, McClearly, Swift, and Grabban, all may need to be out there and ready to grab what comes along their way.
Part of Reading’s attacking bravery may be to allow the opposition some little space out wide, something they may do anyway given their choice of formation. Doing this may be okay, as long as they have a central 3 to outnumber the opposition in midfield.
Regardless of who they play, the central midfield strength of Hogg and Mooy will absolutely have to be cancelled out and a central three may be the way to go and achieve that.
Reading have players who they can call on, and who know what it’s like to be promoted. Yann Kermorgant went up to the Premier League in 2015 with Bournemouth and at the same time, Lewis Grabban was playing in the playoff final for Norwich.
The Canaries won that day and Grabban will do well to draw on that experience before trying to repeat it. Even Reading’s manager, Jaap Stam has played plenty of big games in venues like this for clubs such as Manchester United and so the advice he gives to his side could be crucial.