The Championship: Final day frantics, again!

Written by JuniorParadot

As we enter the final weekend of the season, the Championship yet again has some big questions to answer. Who will clinch automatic promotion? Who will secure that last playoff spot? Who will be relegated?

Year after year questions like these are asked on the final day and it’s for this reason I believe that England’s second tier is one of the most entertaining and underrated leagues in Europe.

Key fixtures:

Cardiff v Reading
Birmingham v Fulham
Derby v Barnsley
Preston v Burton
Millwall v Aston Villa
Bolton v Nottingham Forest

The race for automatic promotion

CARDIFF v Reading
will secure automation promotion if;
• They win v Reading
• They draw v Reading and Fulham fail to beat Birmingham
• They lose to Reading and Fulham lose to Birmingham

Birmingham v FULHAM
Will secure automation promotion if;
• They win v Birmingham and Cardiff draw or lose to Reading
• They draw v Birmingham and Cardiff lose v Reading

The battle for a playoff spot

DERBY v Barnsley
Will secure a playoff spot if;
• They win v Barnsley
• They draw v Barnsley (providing Preston do not win by an eight goal margin)
• They lose v Barnsley, Preston lose and Millwall draw or lose

PRESTON v Burton
Will secure a playoff spot if;
• They win v Burton and Derby draw or lose

MILLWALL v Aston Villa
Will secure a playoff spot if;
• They win v Aston Villa and both Derby and Preston lose (they will need to overturn a nine goal deficit against Derby)
• They win v Aston Villa, Derby lose and Preston draw (they will need to overturn a nine goal deficit against Derby and score more than Preston)

The fight to stay in the league

Cardiff v READING
Will secure safety if;
• They win v Cardiff
• They draw v Cardiff and one of Birmingham, Barnsley and Burton fail to win
• They lose v Cardiff and Birmingham, Barnsley and Burton fail to win

Will secure safety if;
• They win v Fulham
• They draw v Fulham and one of Reading, Barnsley and Burton fail to win
• They lose v Fulham and Barnsley, Burton and Bolton fail to win

Will secure safety if;
• They win v Derby and either Reading or Birmingham lose
• If they draw v Derby and either Burton or Bolton fail to win
• They lose v Derby, Burton lose and Bolton draw or lose

Preston v BURTON
Will secure safety if;
• They win v Preston, either Reading or Birmingham fail to win and Barnsley lose
• They win v Preston and both Reading or Birmingham lose

BOLTON v Nottingham Forest
Will secure safety if;
• They win v Nottingham Forest (and overcome a four goal deficit against Forest), Birmingham lose and either Barnsley or Burton fail to win)
• They win v Nottingham Forest and both Barnsley and Burton lose

Confused? Me too.

Nevertheless, all of these possibilities prove that the Championship is going to provide final day drama once again. This is because, unlike other top leagues, at the start of the season there are genuinely eleven or twelve teams who have realistic dreams of promotion.

In France it’s PSG, in Germany it’s Bayern Munich, in Italy it’s Juventus, in Spain it’s either Barcelona or Real Madrid and this year it has been Manchester City in England – all of these teams backed by millions, most of the time billions of pounds.

Whereas in the Championship, this is not the case. It is pretty much a level playing field, and look how consistently entertaining it has made the league. Maybe the top leagues can learn something from “England’s second best division”.

Previous final day dramatics

Middlesbrough 1-1 Brighton 2015/16

Both Middlesbrough and Brighton went into this final day battle knowing a victory for either team will take them to the promised land that is the Premier League. The Boro had a slight advantage too, as a draw would see them go up on goal difference.

Middlesbrough took the lead inside the first twenty minutes which put the hosts in the driving seat. Brighton did come out stronger in the second half, and levelled through Dale Stephens but the Seagulls midfielder got sent off just four minutes later, that stopped any momentum the visitors had. Middlesbrough went up on goal difference.

Sheffield Wednesday 2-2 Crystal Palace 2009/2010

Crystal Palace travelled to Hillsborough knowing they only needed a point to stay alive in the Championship, and condemn their opponents to League One. Wednesday had to win. The Eagles took the lead through a wonder strike from their striker, Alan Lee. The hosts then levelled in controversial fashion as Leon Clarke appeared to have fouled Palace defender Danny Butterfield, but the referee waved play on and Clarke slotted home.

Half time and, as it stands, it’s the Owls who are going down.

Despite dominating in the second half, Wednesday again surrendered the lead as Darren Ambrose kept his composure to finish from outside the box. Darren Purse managed to grab a late goal for the hosts to give this game the grandstand finish it deserved but in the end it was Crystal Palace who survived.

I could go on but I think you get the picture. This league never fails to deliver!

So if you find yourself looking for something to watch this Sunday lunch time, I strongly suggest you check out the Championship final day, it will not disappoint.