The last matchday of the 2013-14 Football League Championship will see all 24 teams play their final match of the season on Saturday, wrapping up what has been a fantastic season.
Wigan Athletic became the third team to book their place in the play-offs last week, joining Queens Park Rangers and Derby County as the teams still vying for promotion to the Premier League.
Barnsley and Yeovil Town will be relegated to the League One, and one of Birmingham City, Doncaster Rovers, Millwall or Blackpool will join these two teams when the final matchday concludes.
|Football League Championship Table Week 45|
|4||Queens Park Rangers||45||22||11||12||57||42||15||77|
|7||Brighton & Hove Albion||45||18||15||12||53||39||14||69|
|Final Match-Day Fixtures|
|12:15||Barnsley||v||Queens Park Rangers|
|12:15||Blackburn Rovers||v||Wigan Athletic|
|12:15||Bolton Wanderers||v||Birmingham City|
|12:15||Ipswich Town||v||Sheffield Wednesday|
|12:15||Leeds United||v||Derby County|
|12:15||Leicester City||v||Doncaster Rovers|
|12:15||Nottingham Forest||v||Brighton & Hove Albion|
Leicester City and Burnley have already booked their spot in next year's Premier League, and they will be joined by the winners of the play-offs. While Blackburn Rovers still have an outside chance of making those play-offs, the more realistic scenario would see either Reading or Brighton & Hove Albion capture the final play-off ticket.
Reading will host second-place Burnley and will qualify if they match the result of Albion, who will visit Nottingham Forest. The hosts convincingly lost to AFC Bournemouth last Saturday but had been on quite a run going into that match and should make for a difficult opponent at home.
The challengers could be without two key contributors, as reported by Brighton FC News:
Burnley have already clinched promotion and have little left to play for, but the club should have no intentions of just gifting the three points to Reading. With Sky Sports announcing they plan on broadcasting the battle for the play-offs, the visitors will no doubt wish to look good in front of a national audience.
Sky Sports also reported Nigel Adkins' comments on his team's final match of the Championship season, indicating he doesn't expect any presents from the Clarets:
Burnley did very well when we played up at their place. We're facing a team who's just been promoted, they will come to our place and give us nothing. We've got to be right at it.
The mindset has to be to win. We won our last home game, won on Saturday and showed we can come from behind.
We'll work hard on the training ground, be right mentally and it's going to be a great day.
Blackburn would need both Reading and Brighton to lose big on Saturday, and with a goal difference of plus-seven, Rovers would need to score at least seven or eight goals against Wigan to have any chance at the play-offs. While still a mathematical possibility, it would truly be the most unlikely path to the play-offs the league has ever seen.
Blackpool, Millwall and Doncaster can all avoid the drop with a win on Saturday, but thanks to Birmingham City's superior goal difference (minus-16), the Blues would finish higher on the table than any of the aforementioned teams in case of a tie in points.
Birmingham will travel to Bolton and will either need to win and hope for one of Millwall or Doncaster to drop points (or Blackpool to lose), or draw and watch Doncaster lose to champions Leicester City.
As shared by Simply Sean, it truly is a fall from grace for the Blues:
Blackpool will be safe if they can get a single point from their tie against Charlton Athletic or if any of the three teams below them drop points.
Millwall will stay in the Championship with either a win over Bournemouth, a loss of points from Birmingham or a loss by Doncaster and hold the edge in goal difference with a single goal.
Doncaster will need to match Birmingham's result when they take on Leicester due to a worse goal difference (minus-30) or will have to better Millwall's result to jump over the east Londoners and avoid the drop.