Championship playoff preview: Norwich, Boro, Brentford, Ipswich vying for promotion
We already know that Bournemouth and Watford will be promoted to the Premier League ahead of the 2015-16 season, going up as champions and runners-up of the Championship, respectively.
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What we don’t know is, which one of the four teams in the Championship’s promotion playoffs will be joining them. On Friday and Saturday, we move one step closer to finding which one of Norwich City, Middlesbrough, Brentford or Ipswich Town will join the Cherries and the Hornets in the top flight of English football.
Brentford (5th) vs. Middlesbrough (4th) — Friday, 2:45 pm ET
Middlesbrough, who were last in the Premier League in 2009, enter Friday’s first leg after ending the regular season on a sour note (a 4-3 loss and 0-0 draw to end the season) and missing out not only on automatic promotion, but the top seed among the four playoff teams.
“We need to improve, because the last performances weren’t good,” Boro manager Karanka said. “I can’t forget the amazing season we’ve had and we need to be more together than ever. We’re a very good squad and we have our future in our hands.
Regular season meetings: Boro 4-0 Brentford; Brentford 0-1 Boro; Brentford 1-4 Boro (League Cup)
Ipswich (6th) vs. Norwich (3rd) — Saturday, 7:15 am ET
Norwich are bidding to gain promotion right back up to the Premier League one season after going down. Cameron Jerome (18 goals) and Bradley Johnson (15) led the Canaries in scoring during the regular season, with Lewis Grabban and Gary Hooper (12 each) adding to the Championship’s third-highest (88) scoring total.
Ipswich’s final-day defeat to Blackburn Rovers nearly cost the Blues their place in the playoffs, but managed to qualify through a superior goal differential to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Daryl Murphy (27 goals) is the only Ipswich player to reach double-digit scoring in the Championship.
Regular season meetings: Ipswich 0-1 Norwich; Norwich 2-0 Ipswich