Barnsley v Reading | Friday 2nd April 2021, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Domestic football in the top two leagues returns for this Good Friday card and Barnsley versus Reading presents you with your first televised Championship viewing for a few weeks. It could be argued that the international break came at a good time for both teams, and now they’ll be aiming to consolidate their play-off credentials in the remaining eight matches of the campaign.
I say it was a good time for Barnsley as they did suffer a surprise home loss to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday last time out. This brought an end to their 12-match unbeaten run in league action, during which nine resulted in victories. It has been a testing schedule for all sides in the English game, but a high-energy outfit such as Barnsley should have benefited from an opportunity to recharge their batteries.
The Tykes unsurprisingly top the league in relation to percentage of pressing efficiency, whilst they’re the only team at this level to produce over 400 in terms of actual team pressing situations. They top the charts for ball recoveries in the opposition half, defensive challenges and number of tackles.
That is pretty stat heavy but it really does confirm how hard they work out of possession, whilst being pretty effective once on the ball, too. They’re ranked fifth for average number of shots per game, so Reading will be made to work hard on Friday.
Now if we are to compare the stats mentioned above focusing on Reading, you’ll notice they are positioned at the other end of the spectrum. Reading are ranked third-bottom based on number of team pressing moments, fifth-bottom on ball recoveries in the opponents half, yet they’re fourth-top based on amount of tackles made.
This proves them like to get behind the ball and do their defending inside their own half. They’ll be quite happy for Barnsley to build from the back, should they wish.
Veljko Paunovic’s men are winless in their last three, although that did include two draws. We can hardly say they’re in terrible form, especially as they had won three in succession prior to that.
However, before that mini-run, they had lost two on the bounce, so they’ve been a little up-and-down over the last few months, and again, they should be another outfit to benefit from a little break in the schedule. Since the end of October they’ve won only four times on the road, but a number of draws were included in this run, so they remain tough to beat.
This game actually presents two of the top three in the league based upon games contained over 2.5 goals, but does that necessarily mean we’ll see goals here? No for me. Barnsley actually had a pretty bad record against the top teams in the division.
Versus the current top-nine this season, they’ve won three, drew one and lost nine. Seven of these saw two goals or less, too. Whereas 12 of Reading’s 19 away contests this season also ended below the 2.5 goal line. With this also set to be a bit of a battle of styles, both could easily cancel one another out.
Reading have also struggled away against the better teams in the league. Against the current top-11, they’ve won once on the road, but apart from fairly convincing defeats to Brentford and Bournemouth, these have been tight affairs. Barnsley are favourites for this game but I just can’t back them because of their record against the top teams, but Reading don’t travel so well against a similar calibre of club, either.
A draw is possible, but I like the lack of goals route more than anything. I’ll look to combine this keeping Reading on side as I think tactically this game may suit as Barnsley won’t necessarily get the chance to play to their strengths. Even if only just. Reading Double Chance and Under 3 Goals pays 13/10 (Bet365) on the bet-builder.
Barnsley v Reading – Reading Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (13/10 Bet365)