Championship Play-Off Final
Brentford vs Swansea – Saturday 29th May, Wembley 15:00
Never mind the riches and glamour of the Champions League, this is where the real money is; the English Championship Play-off Final at Wembley, the richest game in football. Where victory gives a club Premier League status and all the financial benefits that come with it.
Brentford were last year’s losing finalists and have suffered play-off heartache an agonising 9 times out of 9. Will this finally be their year?
Swansea were also in last year’s play-offs, and lost in the semi-final to this year’s fellow finalists, Brentford. The Swans will be hoping to stop history repeating itself in that respect.
Brentford: Key Players & Statistics
The Bees have been the ‘nearly men’ for the past few years now. Always showcasing admirable, adventurous football, but just falling short when it really matters. With some strong performances from several key players this season, they will be hoping this is finally their year.
Striker Ivan Toney has been the league’s leading goalscorer with a huge 31 goals, then there is Brian Mbueno, another regular scorer and Brentford’s joint-highest goal creator (with Toney again) on 10 for the season. If Brentford are to be successful, along with a talented squad who have all dazzled this season, both Toney and Mbueno will be expected to play major parts in the final.
And if they do win, it will be Brentford’s first ever time in the Premier League, and their first time in the top-flight since 1947 – a huge achievement for Thomas Franke’s team.
Swansea: Key Players & Statistics
For Steve Cooper’s men, this tie represents a chance to re-establish themselves as a Premier League side. Swansea spent several years in the top-flight, winning a league cup along the way, before succumbing to relegation in 2017/18.
Whilst this season has not showcased Swansea at their best, including a patchy run of form across their final five games of the season, they do have players with Premier League and Play-off Final pedigree.
Connor Hourihane – on loan from Aston Villa – a 2 x play-off winner, first with Barnsley in League One, then more recently with Villa in the Championship in 2018/19. Only arriving in January, Hourihane has been a key figure in getting Swansea to the final, with his set-piece expertise a real weapon and goal-threat for the team.
In addition to him there is Andre Ayew, once a regular Premier League goalscorer for Swansea, who has also notched up a respectable 16 goals in this season’s Championship. And with Jake Bidwell as chief playmaker with 8 assists for the season, Swansea are more than equipped to give Brentford a run for their money.
Play-Off Final History
As mentioned, Brentford lost last year’s final 2 -1 to Fulham, a club who have held a strong recent play-off record, winning two finals in 3 seasons.
Prior to that, Aston Villa won play-off promotion at the second time of asking, following a narrow 1-0 defeat to Fulham in the previous year.
So, it’s clear that recent trends point to experienced play-off teams eventually getting over the line, if not at the first time of asking. Such a view obviously bodes well for Brentford, but Swansea are the club that succeeded here back in 2011 when they won promotion to the Premier League, and even more impressively, stayed there for several years.
Add to this the fact that both league games between the sides ended in 1-1 draws, makes the prospect of this year’s Championship Play-Off Final a hard one to call.
Will the Swans soar back into to the top-flight, or will the Bees send their fans buzzing by finally getting over the line?