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Ian Clarke: It would be SO Norwich (and SO Leeds) for City to win the second leg

Fanii din Norwich City încă visează la Wembley <i>(Image: Press Association)</i>” bad-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/r7U8qGp3RJukZhzkDKxWwA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/eastern_daily_press_378/1eeaf406902a816c74a10cbf3303 db5a” src= “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/r7U8qGp3RJukZhzkDKxWwA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/eastern_daily_press_378/1eeaf406902a816c74a10cbf3303db5a”/></div>
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<p><figcaption class=Norwich City fans still dream of Wembley (Image: Press Association)

It’s half time.

My heart says David Wagner, my head says Daniel Farke.

After the crazy, crazy, totally unpredictable season we’ve been through, who knows what can happen between 8:00pm and 9:45pm (or maybe even later) on Thursday night?

The more people talk, the more they believe City’s play-off battle with Leeds could come down to a penalty shoot-out.

How do you feel after Sunday’s stalemate at Carrow Road?

I think we all felt beforehand that we needed to take the lead – and possibly by a few goals – in the second leg of Yorkshire’s end-of-season clash.

Let’s look at the facts.

Leeds finished second in the home league standings in the regular season.

Farke’s men have won 16 of their 23 matches, drawing five and losing just two with a goal difference of 29.

A certain team down the A140 had a little more joy on their home turf thanks to an extra draw and one less loss.

Meanwhile, the Canaries have reached 19th place in the away table.

Wagner’s men have triumphed just six times on the road from 23 games.

There were also six draws and no fewer than 11 defeats. City finished with a -6 goal difference.

Any way you look at it, it’s really poor.

Therefore it must surely be Farke.

With Leeds’ home record and City’s away form, how can there be any other result than the Whites heading to Wembley Way on Sunday, May 26?

Well, fellow fans, the madness of football – and this term in particular – must give us hope.

And it would be SO Norwich – and SO Leeds – for us to head to Elland Road and maintain our 100 per cent record of reaching the play-off final.

Watch out for Sydney van Hooijdonk to strike the winner…

So where do I look for optimism?

Let’s start with Leeds’ current form.

Their only two home league defeats have come in their last two games – a 1-0 reverse at Blackburn before the final day loss to Southampton.

Throw in that dreadful 4-0 at QPR that really gave Ipswich the push for automatic promotion, a goalless draw at home to Sunderland and a 2-1 defeat at Coventry and you can see why many Leeds fans are nervous.

Let’s also not forget that the Yorkshire outfit have never won promotion via the play-offs.

Of the 16 play-off matches they played, they won five, drew three and lost eight.

In the old Second Division battle in 1987, they lost in the final to Charlton after beating Oldham in the semi-finals.

In 2006, they beat Preston before losing 3-0 to Watford in Cardiff.

Two years later they reached the final again after pipping Carlisle in the League One end-of-season draw, before losing to local rivals Doncaster at Wembley.

In 2019, they lost to Derby in the semi-finals of the championship.

The pressure is certainly on Mr Farke and his men, especially as they were so keen to get straight back into the top flight and looked certain to do so at various times during the regular season.

And so at City.

Our recent form isn’t great – two home draws and defeat to Birmingham preceded Sunday’s stoppage.

I’m sure Wagner will tell his players to ignore all that. Thursday night is a clean play. It is a unique match. It’s a cup final.

Another advantage the head coach certainly has is his form in previous play-offs.

In 2017, his Huddersfield side drew 0-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday before winning a dramatic comeback on penalties.

They then triumphed on spot kicks again on the football pitch against Reading to secure promotion.

That experience – and confidence – that Wagner has could really be the key.

Make no mistake, Elland Road will be an absolute cauldron of noise before the game and when it kicks off.

I suspect the home team will really try to score an early goal.

If they do and take the initiative, there will be only one result.

Wagner was right in his post-match summary on Sunday, saying that every minute City stay in the game, they will have their hopes higher and higher.

The longer the game lasts, the better it will be for the Canaries.

Fasten your seat belts, keep dreaming and keep believing!

OTBC.