As the race for promotion to the Premier League continues, we look at the four sides that are set to compete in this season’s Championship play-offs. Sheffield Wednesday suffered heartbreak at Wembley last season and will want to go one step further this year, but it’s all to play for.
We’ve analysed each of the four sides and their chances of play-off success.
Semi Final 1: Reading vs. Fulham
First Leg: Fulham vs. Reading – Saturday 13th May
Second Leg: Reading vs. Fulham – Tuesday 16th May
Final Position: 3rd (85 points)
View from the camp: “It’s a great achievement by everyone. Everyone has worked hard, week in, week out. I think we deserve to be third. But now the season goes on for another three games. We’ve got to keep our focus for another three games and finish the job off now. We’re third in the league so of course there’s going to be a good feeling around. It’s a credit to all the hard work we’ve put in, from the first day of pre-season until now. We’ve got to keep it going now for the next three weeks.” (Paul McShane)
Key Man: Yann Kermorgant: The striker has had his best season in front of goal and is very much in-form leading into the play-offs. He’s scored nine goals in his last nine appearances.
Fun Statistic: This will be Reading’s sixth appearance in the EFL play-offs and fifth in the second tier. They have failed to win promotion on all six occasions, most recently losing 2-4 against Swansea in the 2010/11 final.
Promotion Odds: 4/1
Final Position: 6th (80 points)
View from the camp: “Reading finished third in the regular part of the competition. The table says they are favourites, but we are going to try and surprise them. It will be a tough two games for us and for them too. We are confident, we believe we can play good football and win the games. With this mentality, anything is possible. It is going to be a very important 180 minutes for us. I expect we are going to be competitive and show ambition and desire.” (Slavisa Jokanovic)
Key Man: Ryan Sessegnon: Tom Cairney has labelled him as the “next Ashley Cole” and it’s hard to argue against that. The 16-year old is already one of Slavisa Jokanovic’s key players and he’s scored seven goals in 29 appearances this season. Premier League scouts will be watching the youngster who was named in the PFA’s Championship Team of the Season.”
Fun Statistic: The team that finished sixth in the Championship has won promotion via the play-offs just once in the last 11 seasons, Blackpool in 2009/10.
Promotion Odds: 8/5
Semi Final 2: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Huddersfield
First Leg: Huddersfield vs. Sheffield Wednesday – Sunday 14th May
Second Leg: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Huddersfield – Wednesday 17th May
Final Position: 4th (81 points)
View from the camp: “Huddersfield are a good team, they have proved that over the season. They play good football, but so do all teams in the play-offs. I think the play-offs are different this season and each team has a 25% chance.” (Carlos Carvalhal)
Key Man: Keiran Westwood: The goalkeeper is the club’s Player of the Year and has kept a club record 16 clean sheets this season.
Fun Statistic: The Owls have reached the finals of both play-off campaigns they’ve played in (4-2 vs. Hartlepool in League One 2004/05, lost vs. Hull in Championship 2015/16 final).
Promotion Odds: 5/2
Final Position: 5th (80 points)
View from the camp: “It is fantastic that we have got this far and of course I dream of what may be. However, we have got two hard legs to get through first before we can start to really dream. Everything starts at zero from now. We have a great chance to get to Wembley and then hopefully into the Premier League. It didn’t really matter who we got, it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d have got Fulham. I think Wednesday are a good team, they have some great players like Fernando Forestieri.” (Christopher Schindler)
Key Man: Aaron Mooy: The Manchester City loanee has been a revelation at the John Smith’s Stadium this season. If he plays well in the play-offs, the Terriers will stand an excellent chance of gaining promotion to the top flight.
Fun Statistic: Huddersfield lost both regular league meetings against the Owls this season without scoring a goal (2-0 away in January, 1-0 at home in October).
Promotion Odds: 14/5