Some call it the richest game of football in the world. Others say it’s the most expensive match in the history of football.
You can be forgiven for thinking this is something of a UEFA Champions League game or a FIFA World Cup final. But all of that pale in comparison to what’s at stake – money-wise, of course – when it comes to the English Championship Playoffs final.
What started out with 46 league games saw four teams earn the right to play post-season games. After Leeds and West Brom gained Premier League promotion, Brentford FC, Cardiff City, Fulham FC and Swansea started the race to join the big league.
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Swansea and Cardiff City have fallen by the wayside, leaving Brentford and Fulham to play the final in Wembley, with an estimated $223million at stake. And both finalists have a lot of history between them, especially in the last decade.
Three of the last 12 meetings between Brentford and Fulham have ended in a draw. None of those 12 games have finished without a goal. Says a lot about what is to be expected when these two sides clash for a chance to win the largesse at stake and also rub shoulders with the big boys.
Brentford had to endure a bad patch of form in the latter days of the league, which cost them automatic promotion to the Premier League. Having lost three of their last five games, they haven’t been at their solid best lately. They have only scored five goals in their last five, a stark contrast to their 12 goals in the five before that run.
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Fulham, on the other hand, an impressive unbeaten run in seven games, earned them a playoff spot. During the run, they weren’t the biggest scorers. Scott Parker’s men, however, thrived on their defense, keeping a clean sheet in four of those games.
In this Championship Playoffs final, they will need to do more than that, especially if their history against Brentford is anything to go by. Fulham have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five meetings against Brentford.
Fulham is not the only side with a battle against history going into the richest football game in the world.
In three of the last five seasons in which a third-placed team reached the Championship Playoffs final, they failed to gain promotion. For Brentford, it’s now a battle against Fulham and the existing unfriendly course of history.
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More money and more fame are at stake for both sides. But which team do you think wants it more in the richest football game in the world? Drop your comments below and join the conversation.