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A closer look at the four teams vying for Championship playoff glory

A closer look at the four teams vying for Championship playoff glory
© Reuters
One more club will join Norwich and Watford in the Premier League.

The Sky Bet Championship play-off line-up has been completed with four teams booking their spots in the post-season games.

Brentford, Bournemouth, Swansea and Barnsley will contest the semi-finals with a Premier League place at stake.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the sides involved.


Blackburn Rovers v Brentford – Sky Bet Championship – Ewood Park
Brentford striker Ivan Toney (right) has scored 29 league goals this season (Tim Goode/PA)

Thomas Frank has guided Brentford into the play-offs for the second consecutive campaign after last season's Wembley final despair to Fulham. The Bees lost two-thirds of their 'BMW' strikeforce when Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins departed for the Premier League, but Brentford's recruitment tends to be among the best. Ivan Toney was signed from Peterborough for a reported £5million and has scored 29 league goals. Brentford have proved difficult to beat in recent months with only one loss in 12 games. But six draws in seven games before Saturday's win at play-off rivals Bournemouth ended hopes of automatic promotion. Frank will believe that can act as the launchpad for Brentford to end a 74-year wait for top-flight football.


AFC Bournemouth v Middlesbrough – Sky Bet Championship – Vitality Stadium
Philip Billing has been a key player in Bournemouth's play-off charge (Andrew Matthews/PA)

It has been a roller-coaster season on the south coast, with Jason Tindall starting the campaign in charge and Jonathan Woodgate ending it in the hot seat. Tindall succeeded Eddie Howe in August following Bournemouth's relegation, but the former Cherries' assistant lasted only six months after four successive defeats left them clinging onto a play-off place. Woodgate has won 35 points from 51 as a talented squad have rediscovered their mojo. Philip Billing's move into a more advanced role has proved a masterstroke with the Dane scoring five times in eight games. With forward options also including Arnaut Danjuma, David Brooks, Dominic Solanke and Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth have the firepower to make an instant return to the Premier League.


The Swans are back in the play-offs again after losing to Brentford in the semi-finals last season. Swansea's fan base have criticised Steve Cooper over the playing style, but there is no disputing the head coach has managed to get the most from the resources at his disposal. Success has been based on a solid defence despite losing Joe Rodon in October. Ryan Bennett replaced Rodon and his experience alongside excellent Chelsea loanee Marc Guehi has proved vital. Swansea have suffered from the lack of a natural goalscorer, but Andre Ayew (16) and Jamal Lowe (14) have contributed 30 goals between them. Swansea were within two points of leaders Norwich, with a game in hand, after beating the Canaries at the start of February, but their form has dipped with only seven wins from 17 games.


The Tykes are the surprise play-off package after avoiding relegation on the final day of last season courtesy of a stoppage-time winner at Brentford. The arrival of ex-LASK and Wolfsburg boss Valerien Ismael in October has transformed Barnsley's fortunes, with the former Crystal Palace player leading them from 21st place into the top six. Ismael has introduced a relentless high-energy pressing style and their direct attacking approach has troubled opponents. Daryl Dike has been a sensation since his loan switch from Orlando City in February. The United States international has scored nine goals in 17 games to supplement top scorer Cauley Woodrow. Callum Styles and Alex Mowatt have shone in midfield ahead of a resolute defence.

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Watford's Ismaila Sarr celebrates scoring their second goal against Reading in the Championship on April 9, 2021
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