The richest game in football bar none!
This Championship play off final is now considered to be the richest game in football.
How can this be the case when this important game is contested between two teams who are not even in the Premier league. The supposed wealthiest league in the World.
The reason is, this the pot of gold that the Premier League offers has become so great that even reaching it for one season is enough to secure the finances of your club for a very long time.
Who are the four teams in the running to reach this lucrative game?
Derby County,Leeds United, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion
The season runs it course and at the end of it, the teams that place from third to six contest home and away semi finals against each other.
With the two winners of the respective semi finals going though to the final and their shot at a chance to play in the Premier league, plus winning all the riches that go with it.
Even if you go up and then finish the following season bottom of the premiership the prize money is approximately £100 Miillon for the honour of being bottom of the league. Most clubs would love just one season in the top flight and that amount of money.
During the season in the Premier League your club will receive the highest TV revenue for a football league any where in the World. Increases merchandise sales on all your clubs gear. Full stadiums every week and the honour of some of the biggest clubs in the world visiting your stadium and club.
Derby County F.C. vs Leeds United F.C.
First leg is at Derby’s home ground Derby
Venue: Derby’s Pride Park ground
Time : 17:15
Followed by the second leg in Leeds
Venue : Elland Road
Date: Wednesday 15th May
How did theses two teams get here?
Derby finished the season in sixth place thanks to some quality consistent performances in the run up to the final games.
Thus insuring a play-off spot, Frank Lampard took over as their manager in the beginning of the season. He has decided to play a youthful side full of pace and attacking flair. At times this season it has been inconsistent but that is to be expected with younger players. Performances have definitely picked up towards the end of the season and the momentum of sneaking into sixth place could work in their favour.
Leeds on the other hand managed by Marcelo Bielsa have at time played and looked like the best team in the championship. He likes to maintain a squad with small numbers and this could be the undoing of Leeds this season as they have had a number of key injuries to players throughout the season and had to use replacements who are not quite up to the standards of the player they have replaced. This has meant the club missed out on automatic promotion by not finishing in the top two and has also seen their form slip at a curical time towards the end of the season.
The head to head games this season have seen Leeds win both games 4-1 away at Derby earlier in the season and 2-0 at Elland Road. There was also the crazy incident between the two clubs. Who can forget the infamous spygate. Where Leeds were caught spying at Derby training ground before they played each other, which ended in a £200 thousand pound fine for Leeds.
This will no doubt add more spice to this fixture
Derby have the momentum of sneaking into the final play of place but Leeds have knowledge that that they got so close to going up automatically in the top two. The two results over the course of this season just give Leeds the edge for me in this one but expect no love lost between these two as they go head to head.
My Prediction: Leeds to reach the final.
Aston Villa vs West Bromwich
Venue : Villa Park
Date / Saturday 11th May
Time : 13:30
Followed by the second leg
Venue: The Hawthorns
Date: Tuesday 14th May
More than local pride at stake!
These two clubs as only a few miles apart and matches between them are know as the West Midlands Derbies. So expect these two games to be full of passion and emotion.
After a tough and indifferent start to this seasons for Aston Villa and promotion even via the playoffs looking unlikely the club took the tough decision of letting manager Steve Bruce go and replacing him with Dean Smith. This move kick started their push for the top.
With a more aggressive and determined style. Winning game after game towards he end of the season, has seen this team emerge as one of the inform teams in the division.
West Brom on the other has have been in the toM six for most of the season with a solid squad of players and goal scorers who know where the back of the net is.
Sitting pretty in 3rd place the club decided to sack manager Darren Moore. It was a weird decision that came out of the blue for most football fans. They have not yet found a new permament manager and they have left caretaker coach James Shan in charge.
With both squads probably good enough to hold their own and compete in the premiership this local derby promises to be fiercely competitive.
Head to head results this season between the two clubs saw a 2-2 draw between them earlier in the season and a 2-0 win for West brom in the return fixture away at Villa park.
A very close two legged affair but in Jack Grealish, Aston Villa problably have one of the star players in the Championship this season and his ability and Premiership quality, and with his ability to control a game from midfield could be crucial. West Brom have already showed they have the beating of Villa this season so this promises to be very tight and close games.
My Prediction: Aston Villa to reach the final.
One foot in the Premier League!
Take my predictions with a pinch of salt because this is football and anything can happen. Emotions will be running high, the games will be fast and furious. This is of course being the Championship and one of the most competitive leagues in the world when it comes to results.
It will probably come done to who wants it more, who wants the glory and their shot at winning the richest game in football.
Any one of these four teams would add value to next seasons competitive Premier League with big fan bases and traditional old football stadiums. None of them would look out of place playing in the top league once again.
The Championship this season has been full of unpredictable results, high tension, drama at every turn, and a football league that always surprises and delivers top quality. With that in mind one thing is for certain. You can expect all four Championship playoff games to deliver more of the same.
You either love or hate them but there is no denying the the play offs bring us full on entertainment to the end of season party every year.
Who will start to write a new chapter in their clubs history?
Which ever team reaches the final will feel they have one foot already in the Premier League.
Norwich city and Sheffield United claimed the automatic promotion places into the Premier League but will it be Derby,Leeds, Aston Villa,or West Bromwich joining them my money is on….
Thank you for reading this article and please leave me your fun thoughts on this topic below.