On Tuesday evening the richest game in football takes place behind closed doors with Brentford playing Fulham in the Championship playoff final. Not only is this game worth £170million to the winner but this time it means more with the bragging rights of West London up for grabs.
Fulham look to return to the promised land at the first time of asking after being relegated from the Premier League in 2019 whilst Brentford will be looking to complete an incredible season after falling short at the final hurdle in the automatic promotion race.
There is also an extra incentive for The Bees as promotion to the Premier League would be a fitting tribute to the end of their beloved Griffin Park. Home of Brentford Football Club since 1904 and famous for having a boozer in each corner of the ground.
I imagine the thought of the playoffs give many Brentford supporters sleepless nights. They have competed in them a respectable eight times but have unfortunately lost on all eight occasions (1991, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2013, 2015). As they say records are there to be broken.
Fulham have competed in the playoffs only four times winning once in 2018 when they beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the Championship Playoff Final. A number of their players that day are still in the side which could bring some much needed big match experience come Tuesday night.
Fulham have enjoyed 2 stints in the Premier League with their first run lasting a whopping 13 years. Meanwhile, Brentford have never played in the Premier League but before football began they did enjoy the top flight throughout the 1930’s. However, they were relegated in the first season back following World War 2 and are yet to return.
HEAD 2 HEAD
You could say that going into this match Brentford will have the psychological edge taking 6 points off their West London neighbours this season along with two clean sheets. Impressive.
Their most recent encounter came during the season re-start following the COVID-19 lockdown. Brentford secured a 2-0 victory with second half goals from Benrahma & Marcondes. Although it could be said that Fulham were made to rue their missed chances that day.
Historically, Fulham edge this encounter but as Ian Smith famously said “by the barest of margins”. In their previous 60 meetings Fulham have won 22 & drawn 17 whilst the Bees have been victorious on 21 occasions.
VIEW FROM A BEE
Bees fan Terry Caller from Suffolk gives his predictions ahead of their crunch game against The Cottagers.
What will it mean to Brentford fans to get to the EPL?
It’s crazy to even think of that as a question because I think even the most positive Bees fan would never believe we could make the Premier League when we first got promoted to the Championship. Saying this, if we make it wouldn’t it be amazing as we play great football?
Does your playoff record worry you?
I have been to so many playoff games and every time I am optimistic and think we are going to win but of course you can’t ignore that we have a poor record.
What do you need to do to beat Fulham on Tuesday evening?
We have a great record against Fulham over recent years so we have the beating of them. I just hope we turn up and play well.
What was your favourite memory of Griffin Park?
So many good and funny times so really sad I will never be going back. It would have to be the first home win against Fulham in the Championship, Jota scoring a deflected winner late on! More recently the 7-0 win against Luton was amazing as I was with my family and it was my 3 year old nephews first game!
What’s your score prediction?
3-1 to the Bees!
A COTTAGER’S THOUGHTS
Jez Lees, 31 who has supported Fulham for 20 long years gives his thoughts ahead of Tuesdays final.
What will promotion mean to Fulham fans?
“Winning on Tuesday evening would mean the world to all the fans. We deserve to be back in the Premier League and under Scott Parker I feel we are better prepared than 18/19. Scott Parker has done an incredible job as manager, bringing a style of football to the club that is exciting to watch!
Does losing to Brentford twice this season give them the edge?
“Anything can happen on the day, we just need to ensure we put this at the back of our minds, stick to our game and look to play the high quality football we have seen throughout the season.”
What do Fulham need to do to beat Brentford?
“We need to show mental strength and stick to what we know best and that is possession football. There is a lot riding of this game so we need to remain resilient and focused.”
Where will you be watching the final?
“I will be watching the game with my dad and brother (also big Fulham fans) in the pub!”
What will the score be?
“1-1 full time. Fulham to win in extra time with a Kebano free kick.”
ROAD TO WEMBLEY
Brentford agonisingly missed out automatic promotion after winning 7 league games in a row following the re-start. Two defeats in their final two league games left them facing the dreaded lottery of the playoffs against an in form Swansea City side.
However, they rallied after a 1st leg defeat to blow the Swans away 3-1 in what was a memorable performance in their final ever match at Griffin Park.
Fulham also enjoyed a successful restart and remained unbeaten following early defeats to both Brentford and Leeds United. Like Brentford, Fulham had to also endure a tough playoff trip to South Wales but ran out victorious over the 2 legs despite a late Cardiff City onslaught at Craven Cottage.
Brentford: Marcus Forss is unavailable with a hamstring injury.
Fulham: Top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic is facing a battle to be fit for the final. Manager Scott Parker is hopeful of Mitrovic will be ready after declaring he was close to selection for the 2nd leg against Cardiff City. Also, Neeskens Kebano faces a race to be fit after picking up a hamstring injury against Cardiff City.
HOW CAN I WATCH THE FINAL
The Championship Playoff Final will be broadcast on Sky Sports on Tuesday 4th August with kick off at 7:45pm. The best place to enjoy a match of this magnitude is down the pub.
With over 300 We Love Sport registered sports bars and pubs broadcasting this match you can use our app to find your nearest and secure your seats in front of the big screen. Find out how here.