Championship Play-off Final 2020 Preview: Brentford vs Fulham
Brentford and Fulham are the teams playing in the Championship Play-off Final at Wembley on the 4th of August 2020, potentially one of the most lucrative fixtures in world football. Both teams will be fighting for the final place in the Premier League next season, due to start on the 12th September 2020.
After the restart, Brentford were flying. They were unbeaten and had dropped no points until their final two games, which they lost to Barnsley and Stoke. These losses cost them automatic promotion and forced them into the playoffs. They ended up finishing on 81 points, 2 short of second placed West Brom. In the first leg of the play-off final, a goal from Andre Ayew lost them the tie. However, in the second leg, they won 3-1, which put them into the play-off final.
After the restart, one of Fulham’s first games was Leeds United, the since champions of the league, they lost 3-0 after goals came from Bamford, Alioski and Harrison. Fulham finished the season in 4th place on the same points as Brentford (81) but with staggering 26 less goal difference than them forced them into 4th. In the play-off semi-final, they faced Cardiff City. The first leg went Fulham’s way as they won 2-0. The second leg not so much though. They managed to loose 2-1, however they won on aggregate so went through to the play-off final in Wembley.
The game has so much at stake so undoubtedly, both teams will be playing their hearts out. Brentford can end a 73 year absence from the top flight of English football or Fulham can bounce straight back after relegation last season. If Brentford loose the tie, it will make them record holders for the most play-off campaigns.
This game has a lot of money riding on it too. If Fulham were to win the tie, over the next 3 years they will receive £135 million. However, if Brentford were to win it, they would receive £160 million over the next 3 seasons. This would significantly support either team if they were to be relegated or to strengthen their team for the Premier League. The Championship Play-off final is often dubbed the most lucrative fixtures in world football.
Thomas Frank, the Brentford manager, said that a return to the top-flight of the English top division would be ‘the dream’. Nothing separates the teams other than a couple of miles and goal difference.
The playoffs are the matches in the world where you should expect the unexpected. An ‘under dog’ winner often emerges and games can change at the top of a hat. Teams generally play to their full potential due to how much is on the line. Momentum can change games. Once a team scores a goal they could easily go on and score more and more, as demonstrated in last years playoff semi-final second leg with Leeds and Derby.
Fulham have the most expensive side in the league. You would have expected them to romp the league with a team worth as much as theirs. Their side is worth £130 million, according to TransferMarkt. The nearest side in the league is Stoke on £63 million, more than half of Fulham’s squad value. You could say that Scott Parker’s side has underperformed in the league.
Brentford have done the league double over Fulham this season. This could be playing on the Fulham players’ minds – knowing that they haven’t beat them this season. Mentality and mindset plays a huge role in games like these. You need to be able to keep your calm and play with a level-head (not like Harry Maguire).
Brentford have the second-best defensive record in the league, only bettered by Leeds. Their front 3 have scored just shy of 60 goals between them this season. This shows that they are good in defence and clinical in attack.
This game is bound to be a thriller, as are all play-off finals, because of what is at stake. It would mean the world for either fans for their team to win. However, there can only be one winner. Personally, I think that Brentford will come out on top. It will be a closely contested match and both teams will find the back of the net. I think that it has the potential to go to extra time.