Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Andy Hinchcliffe has suggested that Brentford could have the edge over Fulham and have enough quality to earn promotion to the Premier League, when the two sides meet at Wembley next week in the play-off final.
Brentford managed to overturn a 1-0 defeat from the first leg of their play-off semi-final against Swansea City, with the Bees producing a high quality performance in the second leg which was much more reminiscent of the way Thomas Frank’s side had been playing, before they suffered back to back defeats to end the campaign.
Fulham, meanwhile, managed to do just about enough in the second leg of their play-off semi-final against Cardiff City at Craven Cottage, after taking a two-goal lead in tie with an accomplished first leg performance – and Scott Parker will hope for more of the same in the play-off final against Brentford.
Quiz: Do you remember which club Brentford signed these 15 players from?
The Bees finished ahead of Fulham on goal difference in the regular season and also secured wins home and away against them, and speaking to Sky Sports’ EFL Podcast Hinchcliffe suggested that Brentford might have too much quality on the day for Fulham to handle.
He said: “Brentford’s high tempo start basically blew Swansea away in the second leg. It was half an hour of the best football I’ve seen them play.
“They’ve shown character and ability to bounce back under pressure; they’ve just experienced it and come through it. If they play like that against Fulham, no team in the Championship would be able to cope with them.
“I think Brentford go into the final in a better frame of mind. There is enough experience in that Fulham side to get themselves feeling good about themselves. If you look at the regular-season games, Brentford won both without conceding and Thomas Frank used the Fulham game plan against Fulham.
“They can play 4-3-3 but when Fulham get into their rhythm, they’ll get into 4-5-1 and look to spring on the counter. If they can repeat those performances, there’s no reason they can’t win the final and get to the Premier League. It’s a really interesting game.”
You can certainly see why Hinchcliffe feels that the Bees might just have the edge on Fulham having beaten them twice already in the regular season, but form and previous results do go out of the window at times on such major occasions as a Championship play-off final.
Brentford had looked a little forlorn after they missed out automatic promotion by losing against both Stoke City and Barnsley in their last two matches when a win in either of those games would have taken them up, but they were very much back to their best in the second leg against Swansea.
Fulham showed their resilience against Cardiff in the second leg to hold off a spirited fightback from the Bluebirds, but their performance in the first leg was very good from a tactical point of view and this makes the final against Brentford a very close one to call – and it could come down to who handles the pressure the better.