The EFL Championship Playoff Final will kick off at 17:00 PM GMT
Many overlook the glorious occasion that is the English Football League Championship Playoff final (quite a mouthful) as it’s not only less of a glamour game than say the FA Cup, but it’s not even the most glamorous game being played on the day with the UEFA Champions League Final taking place not long after.
However, this is a game that will quite literally transform the team who wins it. The winner will be taking home £300 Million and a place in the Premier League whilst the loser dives back into the lower leagues of English Football for another season.
Fulham takes on Aston Villa at Wembley today in the Championship Playoff Final.
- Kick Off: 5PM (GMT), Noon (ET), 11AM (CT), 9AM (PT) Click here for your time.
- Referee: Anthony Taylor
- View on: Sky Sports Football, ESPN+ & Sky Sports Main Event
- Betting Odds: Aston Villa 5/4 – Fulham 8/11
Aston Villa Play-Off Preview:
Aston Villa Manager Steve Bruce will be on the hunt for a phenomenal 5th Championship promotion after working his magic with the likes of Birmingham City and Hull City on multiple occasions.
Currently working with an unbeaten record as a Playoff finalist with victories in 2002 with Birmingham City and more recently with Hull City in 2016. Former Manchester United Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and midfielder Robert Snodgrass are both well versed in the art of promotion victories having been apart of 1 each respectively.
Fulham Play-Off Preview:
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has tasted promotion before with Watford in 2015, however that was via the automatic promotion places. The playoff experience is something completely new for the Serbian.
The cottagers are certainly in better form heading into the final having master-minded a 24-game unbeaten run to close out the regular season in the Championship. In fact, it was a loss on the Final day of the campaign that led to them missing out on an automatic promotion birth.
Fulham looks to emulate a way of playing which has shades of Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola with their intense possession-based style. The whites did have a few issues, to begin with as the team struggled to grasp what Jokanovic wanted. It appeared as if the side were over these issues until recently with defeats coming against Birmingham and more recently Derby County in the Play-off semi-final.
Thankfully, the West-London side was able to beat Derby County in the 2nd leg of their playoff Semi-Final, sending them through to the Play-off final game today.
Fulham Duo Kevin Mcdonald and Stefan Johansen have been by far and away the best midfield partnership in the Championship for the past few years now. They both allow the likes of Tom Cairney to work his magic up the field by working tirelessly to protect the back 4 and the ball.
Slavisa Jokanovic was able to bring fellow Serbian Aleksandr Mitrovic to West London in January. Mitrovic has managed to have a big impact on the way Fulham are able to play with his impressive skill set as a target man.
The talk of the nation right now is with young England prodigy Ryan Sessegnon who only recently turned 18. The fullback has been Fulham’s top scorer this season and only just missed out on the England squad for the 2018 World Cup.
Central defender Tim Ream has been the catalyst for defensive improvement. Fulham has only conceded 46 goals this season (down 37 from 3 years ago).
Match Made in Heaven
Fulham’s effective forward play will be taking on the 3rd best defensive record in the Championship. Aston Villa finished the season up having only conceded 42 goals in the league. They’re also yet to concede in the playoffs having kept Middlesborough at bay.
Beside’s Villa’s impressive spending spree. Steve Bruce was able to obtain Chelsea legend John Terry to anchor the backline. Alongside another experienced wrecking machine and former Hull City defender James Chester.
Terry himself has won five separate trophies at Wembley Stadium. Experiences he will surely share with the squad.
Aston Villa’s most dangerous player this year has been Albert Adomah. The 30-year old late bloomer possesses electric speed on the right-hand side. As of yet, no Championship club have been able to effectively deal with Ghanaian.
Unfortunately for Villa, Adomah hasn’t hit peak form since a 4-1 demolition over Wolves back in early March.
Aston Villa was in the Premier League only 24 months ago. Fulham has been in the Championship since they were relegated in 2014.