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Premier League Promotion 2018: Teams, Championship Playoff Bracket and More

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 13, 2018

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - MAY 12:  Aston Villa celebrate after Mile Jedinak of Aston Villa scores his sides first goal during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final First Leg match between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa at Riverside Stadium on May 12, 2018 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The 2018 Championship play-off semi-finals resume on Monday as Derby County look to push past Fulham and advance to Wembley after beating the Cottagers 1-0 in the first leg of their clash on Friday.

Four seasons have passed since Fulham were relegated from the Premier League, and they'll feel upbeat about their chances of overturning the deficit against Derby, winning eight and drawing two of their last 10 home games.

Aston Villa beat Middlesbrough 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday and will host their northeast foes in the second leg of their semi-final on Tuesday, hoping to gain promotion after two seasons in the second tier.

Mile Jedinak's header in the first leg gave Villa a vital one-goal lead coming into the home side of their encounter, with Tony Pulis' Boro side in need of a more clinical attacking display in their trip to Birmingham.

Read on for a breakdown of the Championship play-off semi-finals bracket as four teams look to claim the two spots on offer for a place in the promotion decider. 

           

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Play-off Fixtures (Aggregate)

Monday, May 14

Fulham vs. Derby County (0-1), 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET

Tuesday, May 15

Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough (1-0), 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET

Fixtures can also be viewed on the EFL website.

         

Preview

The Championship will discover its first play-off final entrant on Monday, but Fulham have picked an unfortunate time to lose their form after losing back-to-back games for the first time since November.

After Fulham ended the regular season with a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City, Derby's Cameron Jerome showed superb movement to hand them a second successive loss when the Cottagers travelled to Pride Park on Friday:

The Rams had just three shots in that first leg, per WhoScored.com, only one of which managed to find the target. In contrast, Fulham hit the target twice from 13 attempts and yet find themselves behind in the only stat field that really matters.

Writer Kristan Heneage emphasised how fine play counts for little without an end product:

Villa and Boro played to a similar result at the Riverside except, in their case, the visiting outfit staged a smash-and-grab in foreign territory to bring a coveted 1-0 lead back home.

And again, it was a header that decided the first-leg result on Teesside as Jedinak picked an opportune moment to end his fear of scoring away from home, per OptaJoe:

But one goal is far from an insurmountable margin, and Middlesbrough boss Pulis told Sky Sports before the trip to Villa Park that he and his men are still coming in with a chance of making it to the play-off final:

"Obviously, we're disappointed. I thought we did enough not to lose the game today, but it's small margins. The set-play is a disappointment, we're disappointed they scored off that.

"Villa are in the ascendancy in the tie. I can't hide the fact, going to Villa Park in front of a full-house, it gives them an advantage.

"But there's still 90 minutes to play and anything can happen in 90 minutes."

Boro's chances don't look too bright when one considers the club have won only two of their last nine games away from the Riverside, although they did end their season with a win at Derby and a 2-2 draw at Ipswich Town.

Pulis is seeking to return to the first tier after he was sacked by West Bromwich Albion in November, and he'll be particularly motivated to complete a swift return to the Premier League after the Baggies' relegation was recently confirmed.

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