We’re starting to really get down to the business end of the Championship season now with just one matchday remaining. However, when it comes to the promotion and relegation battle, there’s not a whole lot left to decide.
We already know Norwich City and Watford are heading back to the Premier League with the relegation scrap set to go down to the wire. In terms of the playoffs, though, we know which four teams are going to compete in the semi-finals – and it’s just a question of who is going to play who.
You can try and predict what’s going to go down through the betting page but today, we want to give our thoughts on all four contenders and what they bring to the table.
Brentford managed to make it all the way to the edge of glory last season but fell short at the final hurdle in the playoff final. Now, they’re right back in a position to succeed which is something many fans didn’t expect for them after losing a handful of their top players. They came within touching distance of automatic promotion and so long as they can stick to their own pattern of play, they’ll be the clear favourites to win this whole thing.
Swansea are quite conservative in the sense that they don’t tend to score a lot of goals, but they also don’t concede many either. They’re consistent with what they’ve been trying to accomplish and they’ve stuck to a game plan that, for the most part, works really well. They could quite easily fly under the radar and win the whole thing in the same manner that Fulham did last season, although they’ll be eager to secure fourth spot and build some more momentum heading into the semis.
Bournemouth love to take risks and they’ve been doing so for a while now, from managerial changes to scoring goals for fun. A few poor results have left them vulnerable to slipping back down into sixth place and even though that wouldn’t be the worst-case scenario now that they’re already confirmed to have a place in the top six, it’s not exactly going to be ideal. They’re probably the biggest underdogs, weirdly enough, heading into the playoffs, and in many ways, they should treat every game and every positive result from this point on as a bonus.
Barnsley will, for the most part, be seen as the club that most neutrals want to succeed in the playoffs – if only because it’s been so long since they felt like viable promotion contenders. Everyone likes seeing fresh teams in the top flight and given the fact that the Tykes haven’t been in the league since 1998, we’d say the time has come for them to make some noise. They’ve got the quality, the determination and the heart necessary to cause the other three playoff sides some real problems, and it’ll be fascinating to see whether they can live up to the hype.