Weblog: The football punter

Sheffield United can take down Tigers

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Sheffield United have been battling their way back into Sky Bet Championship playoff contention and they can return to the top six for the first time this month by beating Hull.

The dream of back-to-back promotions had appeared to be dying for the League One champions, who slipped to eighth after a their recent 3-0 defeat at Wolves.

But Chris Wilder's side responded with a pair of 2-1 home wins over Leeds and QPR (the first time they had won successive league games since November) and are gaining in confidence at a crucial stage of the season.

The scene is set for an almighty scrap for the playoff places with just six points separating fifth-placed Fulham from Brentford in tenth.

And United have a great chance to enhance their prospects over the next few weeks because five of their next six matches are against bottom-half teams.

Fourth-bottom Hull have not been higher than 18th since October, yet they are well-respected by the markets and are only narrow outsiders to defeat United.

An ongoing theme has been their failure to translate decent performances into positive results and it was evident again on Tuesday as Hull competed on even terms away to Middlesbrough and lost 3-1.

Tigers boss Nigel Adkins blamed dreadful defending for the defeat, which left his side outside of the bottom three only on goal difference.

Bad luck with injuries has contributed Hull's problems and there has been some better news on that front with long-term absentee Abel Hernandez back in full training and not far away from a first-team return.

The Uruguayan is a proven goalscorer in the second tier and will be anxious to catch the eye in the build-up to the World Cup.

Hernandez's quality could be invaluable during the run-in but he needs to be carefully managed, having played just 55 minutes of Under-23 football.

Bookmakers expect Hull to survive and they are only sixth in the relegation betting.

But the harsh reality is that they have won just one league game in the last ten weeks and another defeat is on the cards against a Blades side sharpening up their promotion push.

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Match in Focus

13:00 TODAY BBC1

Belgium v Tunisia

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Belgium have kept clean sheets in six of their last eight fixtures
Expert verdict
Belgium cruised to an easy win over Panama in their World Cup opener and could be just as comfortable against Tunisia in Moscow. The Belgians took a while to get going against Panama but should be better for the experience and face very little threat from the defensive-minded Tunisians.