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Championship Playoffs preview: PL promotion up for grabs

Hull City v Stoke City - Premier League

HULL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Steve Bruce manager of Hull City gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Stoke City at KC Stadium on August 24, 2014 in Hull, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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The Championship Playoffs get underway on Friday as four clubs battle it out for a coveted spot in the Premier League.

With Burnley and Middlesbrough securing automatic promotion by finishing 1-2 in the league, the teams that finished 3-6 on the table enter into a playoff for the final spot in the top flight.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The playoff matchups are Brighton & Hove Albion (3) vs. (6) Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City (4) vs. (5) Derby County. After the home-and-home two-legged tie decided on aggregate, the final is a one match, winner-gets-promoted affair at Wembley on May 28.

Semifinal One

Leg 1: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Brighton - Friday, May 13
Leg 2: Brighton vs. Sheffield Wednesday - Monday, May 16

Brighton & Hove Albion
Record: Third place, W24-D17-L5, 89 points
Manager: Chris Hughton
Last season in Premier League: Never

Sheffield Wednesday
Record: Sixth place, W19-D17-L10, 74 points
Manager: Carlos Carvalhal
Last season in Premier League: 1999-2000

Head-to-head this season
November 3: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Brighton
March 8: Brighton 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Brighton was unlucky not to secure automatic promotion, finishing tied on points with Middlesbrough but behind by just two goals on goal differential. After opening the season 21 matches unbeaten and finishing the campaign 14 matches unbeaten, the Seagulls somehow find themselves battling in the playoff for a shot to reach the Premier League for the first time in club history.

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Sheffield Wednesday’s season was highlighted by knocking Arsenal out of the League Cup, but promotion to the Premier League would make that win feel like a friendly. Led by Fernando Forestieri’s 15 goals, the Owls will look to upset Brighton and earn a spot in the playoff final at Wembley.

Semifinal Two

Leg 1: Derby County vs. Hull City - Saturday, May 14
Leg 2: Hull City vs. Derby County - Tuesday, May 17

Hull City
Record: Fourth place, W24-D11-L11, 83 points
Manager: Steve Bruce
Last season in Premier League: 2014-15

Derby County
Record: Fifth place, W21-D15-L10, 78 points
Manager: Darren Wassall
Last season in Premier League: 2007-08
Head-to-head this season
November 27: Hull City 0-2 Derby County
April 5: Derby County 4-0 Hull City

Hull City will look to jump right back up to the Premier League after one season in the Championship. The Key to the Tigers’ success has been great home form, losing just one match and conceding 12 goals at the KC all season. However, that one loss was to Derby County.

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Derby dominated Hull in the season, winning both matches by an aggregate of 6-0. Paul Clement was sacked in February as the club faltered, but Darren Wassall took charge and led the Rams into the playoff. Only under contract until the end of this season, should Wassall get the club promoted, he could earn himself a new deal at Pride Park.