The Championship play off final will take place at Wembley on Saturday, and the tea-time kick off is the perfect warm-up to the Champions League final taking place later on the same day. The play off final is often billed as the richest game in club football, such are the rewards of making it to the Premier League, and both Hull and Sheffield Wednesday now stand just 90 minutes away from a return to the big time.
It would be an instant return for Hull who were relegated just last season, but for Wednesday it would end a 16-year exile from the top flight after relegation in 2000. The Owls have rarely looked like mounting a promotion challenge over the years, but Carlos Carvalhal instilled a new resilience this season which saw them finish 6th in the league. Hull were two places and nine points above in fourth, but the teams have drawn both times they’ve met this season and Saturday’s match promises to be every bit as tight.
The Semi Finals
Sheffield Wednesday went up against third-placed Brighton in the semis, after the Seagulls missed out on automatic promotion by the slender margin of goal difference. It was the first leg at Hillsborough that made the difference, with the visitors losing four players to injury and being forced to play the last half an hour with ten men. Wednesday were already a goal to the good by that point though, and they added a second to take a 2-0 lead to the south coast. Lewis Dunk gave Brighton hope with a 19th minute goal, but Ross Wallace restored Wednesday’s two goal lead with an equalizer after 28. That’s how it stayed and the Owls will have a rare trip to Wembley for this special occasion.
Hull made an even bigger impact in their first leg against Derby, winning 3-0 on the road courtesy of goals from Hernandez, Robertson and the unfortunate Shackell who put through his own net. If that performance was sublime they saved the ridiculous for the home leg where they capitulated under Derby pressure to go 2-0 down within 36 minutes. Wave after wave of Derby attacks ensued but Hull managed to hang on grimly to secure their place at the national stadium. Steve Bruce labelled his side’s ability to throw in the odd shocker as their ‘Achilles heel’, but assured fans that they will be better when Saturday’s final comes around.
Premier league at Stake
With so much at stake the draw makes obvious appeal at +230 with Marathonbet
The two matches during the regular season both ended in stalemates, with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday in October and a 0-0 draw in the return fixture at Hull in February. Overall these two teams had two of the most miserly defensive records in the division too, Hull conceded just 35 goals over the course of the season, while Wednesday let in just 45.
Wembley finals of this ilk are often close encounters as neither side wants to make a mistake that could spell disaster, and both sides will approach the game with caution. There’s good value in backing the draw over 90 minutes in the expectation of extra time, with so little to choose between the teams.
Hull and Sheffield Wednesday to Draw
Saturday 28th May, 17:00 GMT