Championhsip’s season is a real marathon. After 46 matches, Norwich and Watford have finally validated their ticket to the Premier League next season. There is still one seat left to be propelled into the fascinating world of the world’s most watched championship. The stakes are high because the winner of the play-offs, which begin on Monday, will receive a huge endowment of around € 200 million. Be careful because receiving this sum does not guarantee either its maintenance in the Premier League the following season, Fulham learned it the hard way in 2019. After spending € 115 million in the summer, the Cottagers were down immediately. However, this money can help. Every year, we even present the final of these play-offs as the most expensive match in the world. The winner will go to the Premier League and be rich. The loser will stay in Championhsip and will only have his eyes to cry on. Presentation of the candidates present.
Brentford: avoiding last season’s nightmare
3rd in the Championship, Brentford hopes not to relive his mishap from last season. Also 3rd at the end of the regular season, the Beers lost in the final after extra time against Fulham (2-1). A scar difficult to close for Thomas Frank and his men but this season, they seem better armed, more mature also despite management of matches not always consistent. Bryan Mbeumo is living his second season in England and has gained consistency (10 assists, 8 goals) but Ivan Toney is the star of the team. With two League One seasons 16 and 24 goals for Peterborough, the 25-year-old striker blew up the stats for his first season in the 2nd Division, finishing wide as the league’s top scorer with 31 goals. On a series of 12 consecutive games without defeat, the Beers are favorites in these play-offs. They will face Bournemouth for these semi-finals, which they have beaten twice this year.
Bournemouth does not show up confidently
A year after going down, the Cherries will try to make the lift, like the first two of the championship besides Norwich and Watford. That was the goal at the start of the season but everything could have gone very badly. Former Eddie Howe assistant for nearly 10 years, Jason Tindall ended up being sacked in February, after a string of poor results and most importantly a home loss to Red Lantern Sheffield Wednesday. Since the arrival of Jonathan Woodgate, Bournemouth has been able to raise the bar, in particular thanks to his striker Dominik Solanke (15 goals, 8 assists) and his left winger Arnaut Danjuma (15 goals, 7 assists). Jack Wilshere (now a luxury replacement in this team) and his partners have arguments to make for these play-offs but they don’t seem in great shape either. They ended the season with three losses without scoring a goal to drop back down to 6th place, and Woodgate has a reputation for being a pressure-sensitive coach.
Swansea City is no longer last year’s surprise
The Welsh club also experienced more or less the same trauma as Brentford. 6th in extremis last year a little to everyone’s surprise, he beat the Beers in the first round (1-0) before losing the return (3-1) and seeing his dream slip away. It’s up to Swansea to use this experience to do better this year. Led by the duo André Ayew (16 goals) – Jamal Lowe (14 goals), who benefited from his passers Jake Bidwell (8 assists) and Connor Roberts (7 assists), the Swans have also grown compared to last season . They showed a much better consistency over the whole year ended in 4th place, but they will also be more expected. On loan from Newcastle, goalkeeper Freddie Woodman performed well in his goal and has the most games without conceding a goal. Young manager Steve Cooper (41) is also starting to talk about him upstairs.
Barnsley, the miracle is called Valérien Ismaël
Saved in the last match last year and 21st in the championship after 7 days this season, Barnsley is already happy to have arrived there. The rest will only be a bonus. A man is at the origin of this spectacular recovery and he is French: Valérien Ismaël. Arrived in October 2020, the coach imposed his style, from German-style gegenpressing which completely straightened the club, to finish it in 5th place in the Championship. The second part of the season was impressive, including 9 wins in 10 matches in the spring. The merit of this team is above all that it is incredibly young, less than 25 years old on average. Only Austrian defender Michael Sollbauer (31) is over 30. Outsiders, the Tykes land full of recklessness and without pressure against three teams who have never hidden their ambition to go upstairs. This is both the strength and the weakness of this team.
Program of these play-offs:
Monday May 17, semi-finals first leg
- Bournemouth (6) – Brentford (3)
- Barnsley (5) – Swansea (4)
Saturday May 22, return semifinals
- Brentford – Bournemouth
- Swansea – Barnsley