Barnsley’s Alex Mowatt, right tries to beat two Chelsea defenders during the English FA Cup fifth round soccer match between Barnsley and Chelsea at the Oakwell Stadium in Barnsley, England,Thursday Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson, Pool)
- Swansea holds a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Barnsley heading into Saturday’s return fixture in Wales
- The Tykes are looking to overturn a run of three straight losses to their promotion rivals this season
- Read on for a full preview, odds, and the best bet for Saturday’s crucial Championship semi-final playoff encounter
Given the stakes – and lucrative financial rewards – involved, there are few sporting contests more pressure-packed that the EFL Championship playoffs. As former Premier League participants, both Swansea and Barnsley will be well aware of the importance of Saturday’s second leg, kicking off at 1:30 p.m. EST on May 22.
Swansea holds a slim 1-0 leg from last week’s first leg in Yorkshire, and will be counting on a smattering of fans back in Wales to help steer the club through to the Championship final on May 29.
Swansea vs Barnsley Odds
|Swansea vs Barnsley||SWA +0.5 (-220) | BAR -0.5 (+170)||SWA +175 | BAR +170
|Ov 2.5 (+123) | Un 2.5 (-152)|
All odds taken May 21st at DraftKings
Swansea Hoping to Avoid a Repeat
Manager Steve Cooper is no stranger to holding a 1-0 semifinal lead after the first leg of the Championship playoffs. Swansea had just such an advantage last season, but his team couldn’t make it hold in the return leg against Brentford, and it was the Bees who advanced 3-2 on aggregate.
🗣️ “It’s a really good result. We went there to win and that’s what we did, but we found out last year that a 1-0 lead means nothing.”
More from Freddie 👉 https://t.co/LIpk14PUaI pic.twitter.com/ac920unTA6
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) May 18, 2021
On the plus side, this is a better Swansea squad. Cooper has improved his team’s standing in this, its third season back in the Championship following a seven-year sojourn in the Premier League. After finishing sixth last year, the Jacks managed to finish fourth this season, 10 points higher than their finish in 2019-20.
Another feather in Swansea’s cap is its recent form against Barnsley. Including last week’s first leg, the Jacks have beaten their Yorkshire opponent all three times the two have played this season. Better still, the Tykes have yet to find the back of the Swansea net in those games, having lost 2-0 both home and away in league games.
Given that both sides have been anything but a constant in the Championship, moving up and down the divisions, games between the two have been anything but regular occurrences. That being said, it is 15 years since Barnsley registered any kind of victory over Swansea, that being a 4-3 penalty shootout win at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff following a 2-2 draw to clinch promotion to the Championship in the League One playoff final.
🗣️ “I think in the second half we had a real intensity and promise about us… we can only take that momentum into Saturday.”
We’re not done yet! 💪 pic.twitter.com/NwMLI3cu4J
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) May 20, 2021
Before that, the Tykes’ last actual win took place almost 40 years ago, when they won 3-2 at Oakwell in the old Division Two in 1983. Since that day, Swansea has won 10 and drawn seven – including that shootout loss in 2006 – of the 17 occasions the two teams have played.
Barnsley Two Wins from Glory
It might seem like a million miles away right now, but the Tykes are just two wins from a return to the Premier League for the first time in 24 years. And while they were edged in the first leg at home, they can perhaps consider themselves unlucky to have not at least grabbed a share of the spoils.
There are many vital individuals at #BarnsleyFC but my One to Watch in the play-offs is Daryl Dike. If there’s to be a big moment over the two legs, it might well come from him. pic.twitter.com/D9J7fFwwMH
— AGB (@BurnsAlfie) May 17, 2021
Barnsley seemingly carried more of the play in the first leg, having finished with more shots – both on target and wayward – corner kicks and possession than Swansea, with Andre Ayew’s first-half goal proving the difference. That level of play should give Valerien Ismael the confidence that his current lineup can get the job done, albeit if his players can just be a little more clinical in front of goal.
Swansea vs Barnsley Stats
|23-12-11||2020-21 Championship Record (W-L-D)||23-14-9|
No Major Injury Concerns
Both teams should field largely unchanged lineups from the start of this game. Swansea boss Cooper will likely be tempted to name the same starting 11 that got the job done in Barnsley last Monday, with the second-half introduction of Wayne Routledge the only substitution made by the Jacks.
Steve Cooper expects to have the same squad to select from for our play-off second leg against Barnsley, after reporting no new injury issues.
👉 https://t.co/SIuqR8hcg7 pic.twitter.com/7wySzhTjtZ
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) May 20, 2021
And Barnsley wasn’t a million miles away from where it wants to be either – finding the net notwithstanding – so Ismael may continue in the same vein. However, Carlton Morris, the team’s fourth-leading scorer with seven goals, was brought on at halftime of Monday’s loss, and may find his way into the starting lineup for a team that knows it simply has to score to stand any chance of moving on.
Pick: Draw (+205)
For the last 20 years, Paul Attfield has worked in sports media. Starting out in his native Britain with the likes of The Independent, he eventually switched continents, with his work appearing in the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Yahoo Sports since.