Premier League Promotion 2017: Predictions for Championship Playoff Final

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2017

READING, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Reading fans celebrate on the pitch following the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Second Leg match between Reading and Fulham at Madejski Stadium on May 16, 2017 in Reading, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Huddersfield Town and Reading will meet in the final of the 2017 EFL Championship play-offs on May 29, with the final ticket for next year's Premier League on the line.

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion have already been promoted to the Premier League, and the other teams that finished the season in the top six have been battling away in a play-off to add one more club.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 17: Huddersfield Town players celebrate at full time during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town at Hillsborough Stadium on May 17, 2017 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barra
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Third-placed Reading were clearly the better side over both legs against sixth-placed Fulham, while fifth-placed Huddersfield Town needed penalties to get past fourth-placed Sheffield Wednesday.

The play-off finalists finished four points apart in the league, with Reading earning one more win.

As shared by From The Stands, it's been quite the ride for both sides:

FTS Football @FromTStands

Last season in the championship; Reading 17th Huddersfield 19th A year later they face each other in the playoff final at Wembley.

Football.london's Charles Watts approved of the final:

Charles Watts @charles_watts

That's the final it should be. Reading v Huddersfield - over the course of the season they deserved it, no doubt.

Neither team stands out as particularly vibrant moving forward. Reading finished the season with a goal difference of plus-four, scoring 68 times in 46 matches. If that doesn't sound too inspiring, consider Huddersfield actually finished the campaign with a negative goal difference of minus-two.

The Royals are led by the in-form Yann Kermorgant, who has bagged nine goals in his last 10 matches. The veteran―he's 35 years old―is a bit of a career journeyman, but it's hard to argue with his sensational form.

He and goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi discussed what it was like reaching the final, per the club's official YouTube channel:

Manager David Wagner―who rose to fame as Jurgen Klopp's right-hand man at Borussia Dortmund―has worked wonders with Huddersfield, guiding the side to the brink of the Premier League.

Fans will be reminded of Klopp's Liverpool when they watch the Terriers, who love to press and counter but can be vulnerable at the back―just like the Reds. They did not finish the season in top form, but in a one-match final, anything could happen.

Per Sky Sports Statto, history is on their side:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Huddersfield have won on their last 2 trips to Wembley, play-off final victories v Sheffield Utd (on pens) in 2012 & Bristol Rovers in 1995 https://t.co/nwXtF4Yr8R

There's little to separate the two clubs, who split the season series at one match apiece, with both finishing 1-0 to the hosts. In a neutral venue, Reading might have the slight edge in experience, but Huddersfield have proved over the years they can hold their own on the biggest stage.

Tactics and defensive solidity could prove the difference along with form, and the Royals have played some of their best football of late. Expect a tight match, with two clubs that have plenty to lose.

Prediction: Reading 2-1 Huddersfield Town after extra time.


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