Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham will battle in two-legged series over the next two weeks to try to make the English Football Playoff Final. Let’s see who plays who and make a trio of picks for the two Leg 1 matches.
As Chelsea moves closer to winning the 2016/17 English Premier League title, the 2017 English Football League Playoffs will be determining which Championship club will join Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United in England’s top flight of football next season. Sunderland will be relegated, as will 19th-place Middlesbrough which saw its fate sealed after losing to Eden Hazard and the Blues, 3-0 on Monday at Stamford Bridge. Eighteenth-place Hull City looks doomed—and the Tigers are a club we tabbed for demotion—but 17th-place Swansea City and 16th-place Crystal Palace will also have to be on their best behavior these final three EPL weeks (36-38).
The four Championship clubs who will play in two-legged Semifinal series to to try to make the EFL Play-off Final at Wembley Stadium on May 29 and emerge victorious and join the Seagulls and the Toon—back up—in the Premiership are 3rd-place Reading (26-7-13, 68 GF-64 GA) and 6th-place Fulham (22-14-10, 85 GF-57 GA),- who will battle in one Semifinal series (May 13, 16) along with Steven Fletcher and 4th-place Sheffield Wednesday (24-9-13, 60 GF-45 GA) and 5th-place Huddersfield Town (25-6-15, 56 GF-58 GA) who will lock horns in the other EPL Semifinal (May 14, 17). The EFL Championship Play-off Final is scheduled for Monday, May 29 at historic Wembley Stadium in London.
Championship Promotion Odds (at Bet365)
Sheffield Wednesday +250
Huddersfield Town +300
Fulham vs. Reading Preview
Leg 1: Saturday, May 13, 12:30 p.m. ET (Leg 2: May 16)
Frenchman Yann Kermorgant and Reading head to London and Craven Cottage to face Fulham in Leg 1 of their EFL Playoff Semifinal series. The Cottagers are tied with promoted side and league champions Newcastle United with the most goals in the Championship so far this season and with Stefan Johansen, Chris Martin (10 goals), Floyd Ayité (9 goals) and Sone Aluko (8 goals), have enough firepower to get a goal at Home here in the opening leg. Garath McCleary, John Swift and Reading won 1-0 in the last meeting in January at Reading while Fulham blasted the 10-man Royals, 5-0 here at Craven Cottage on Dec. 3 as Martin scored twice and Aluko and Johansen added to an opening OG 15 minutes in. Expect Fulham (-167 at Intertops) to win this leg outright and score a couple of goals of fear of that return Leg 2 three days later at Madejski Stadium.PREDICTED FINAL: Fulham 2 Reading 1FREE EFL SEMIFINAL PICK: Fulham -167Best Lines Offered: at Intertops
Huddersfield Town vs. Sheffield Wednesday Preview
Leg 1: Sunday, May 14, 7 a.m. ET (Leg 2: May 17)
Sheffield Wednesday travel to Huddersfield and John Smith’s Stadium Sunday to face upstart Huddersfield Town in Leg 1 of their EFL semifinal series between the fourth- and fifth-place sides in England’s second tier of soccer. The host Terriers are led by Elias Kachunga, Nahki Wells and Isaiah Brown but the visiting Owls have Winnall, Fernando Forestieri and the indomitable Steven Fletcher and should get a precious Road goal in what could be a low-scoring affair. GK Kieren Westwood and Wednesday look like they may also be a good Leg 2 pick at Hillsborough Stadium next Wednesday, of course. In the Regular Season, Forestieri scored in both fixtures and the Owls (+15 GD) and Westwood registered Clean Sheets at Huddersfield (1-0, Oct. 16) and at Sheffield (2-0, Jan. 14). So, the Terriers (-2 GD) have yet to score on Wednesday, making the Road underdogs worth consideration.PREDICTED FINAL: Huddersfield Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1FREE EFL SEMIFINAL PICK: Sheffield Wednesday +210 & Under 2½Best Lines Offered: at Intertops