Before the Championship’s regular season wraps up next weekend, we have a few matches in midweek. There are two sides who are already bound for the Premier League next season, who we looked at in detail here. However, the playoffs will bring some extra drama in the coming weeks. There are still six sides who have a chance to lay claim to the final promotion spot.
The final spot in the top six remains up for grabs, and that will be the main focus of the midweek games. The battle for sixth could be decided ahead of the final weekend, while there are other talking points ahead of the action on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re looking ahead to the Championship’s leftover clashes and checking out the latest betting odds on both.
Table Wrapping Up
With only one more round of fixtures to play, the Championship’s business is almost wrapped up. However, the Bolton’s players strike saw one match postponed, so their clash with Brentford is set to be rearranged for this week. Last weekend saw Norwich and Sheffield United promoted, while Rotherham took the final relegation place to League One. That means that the focus for the last few days moves to the playoffs, ahead of the post-season clashes kicking off in May.
We now know three of the four sides who will be in the playoffs, with Leeds unable to climb any higher than third. Fourth-placed West Brom could yet leap into third, but they’re guaranteed at least fourth. It seems likely that they’ll meet Aston Villa in the semi-finals, who have secured fifth place. All three have reason to be hopeful for the playoffs, as we discussed yesterday in our look at the Championship’s title and promotion fights.
As things stand, Derby are in pole position for sixth, which they strengthened their grip on this weekend. A 2-0 victory over Bristol City opened up a four-point lead over the Robins. However, the Rams are level on points with Middlesbrough, who were able to claim a 2-1 win over Reading on Saturday. That has left Tony Pulis and his men in the three-way fight for sixth, despite going through a terrible run of losses recently. Boro’s win has also put pressure on Derby ahead of their midweek game in hand.
Bristol City’s Last Chance
Bristol City were right in the mix for sixth until their weekend defeat, another poor result at home that has held them back. The Robins are a side who have gone on patches of form, so needing six points from two games isn’t really ideal for them. However, Lee Johnson’s side are heading to Millwall on Tuesday night needing a win. A victory would put them within a point of Derby, potentially leaving them in the playoff chase going into the final day.
However, the Robins face a test against a side celebrating success. Millwall have limped over the line in the survival battle, thanks to a fourth draw in five games. They haven’t exactly flung themselves clear with a brilliant run, but Neil Harris has made his team hard to beat. That’s a trait which he’ll be hoping they finish the season with. It sets up a tense clash, which you can see our betting tips for right here.
The pressure here sits entirely with Bristol City, but it’s nothing like what they’d face in the playoff semi-final. Going up against Leeds would be a major test for this inconsistent outfit, who are now incredibly unfancied in the push for sixth. They’ve drifted out to 25/1 with Paddy Power to secure a place in the playoffs, while they’re a massive 125/1 with Betfair to win them. While there are positives to take for the Robins, they are unlikely to make the leap into the top six this term.
Can Derby Get Over the Line?
While Bristol City are massive outsiders, Derby are heavy favourites for sixth. The Rams can basically wrap up a playoff place with three points on Wednesday at Swansea. Should they fail, then a win at home to West Brom on Sunday would do the trick. With two chances to get over the line, they’re currently 2/9 with Betfair to make the playoffs. However, that price doesn’t reflect their difficult fixtures.
We’ve laid out in our preview the reasons we have for going against Derby this week. They’ve won 17 of their last 59 trips in the Championship, which isn’t great for a side who are fighting for the playoffs. On top of that record, they’re meeting a Swansea side who have clicked right at the end of the campaign. The hosts have forward Ollie McBurnie to call upon up front, a forward with 21 goals this season. He’s scored five of those in his last three home games, adding to a fine scoring run from the Swans. With that form, we’ve backed the striker to notch again when they face this travel-shy Derby team.
While Frank Lampard’s side need a win, this isn’t the best place to get it. Plenty of sides have struggled at the Liberty this term. The Swans play great football, which is incredibly effective in front of their home support. We’ve sided with the Welsh side, which could send the playoff chase down to a dramatic final day. While we’re through 97% of the Championship campaign, there’s still room for major midweek drama.