It has been an unbelievable week in world football with comebacks aplenty, however the opening weekend of the EFL Championship promotion play-offs looks set to be a cracker.

In the first match on Saturday, in-form Aston Villa will host rivals West Brom in the first leg of the tie.

The West Midlands derby is always a great spectacle, with West Brom winning the most recent edition 2-0 in February.

Aston Villa had a strong run in to the play-offs, finishing in fifth position and going on an eleven-game undefeated streak in the period between March and April. Many have tipped them to be the third team promoted into the Premier League due to their strong form.

West Brom on the other hand finished in fourth position and while their form has not been as strong as Aston Villa, they have had a decent season. Manager Darren Moore was sacked in March due to poor results and caretaker manager James Shan has the chance to return the side to the Premier League.

The second match of the weekend sees Derby County host Leeds United.

This will be a rematch between the two following the ‘Spygate’ saga, which saw Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa admit to ordering a staff member to keep a watch over their opponent in January. It will be interesting to see whether there is any tension between the two over the weekend, and also in the second leg.

Derby County finished in sixth spot at the conclusion of the regular season and are unbeaten in their last six matches. Manager Frank Lampard has done a good job this season with his squad, and they have the ability to challenge for the last promotion spot.

Leeds on the other hand had a disappointing conclusion to the season after such a strong start. The side almost secured automatic promotion, however since January they have been inconsistent. They are winless in their last four matches, and improvement is needed for them to be a chance for promotion. Despite this, playing the second leg at home gives them an advantage.

It certainly will be an entertaining weekend of EFL Championship football.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com