With a place in the top flight of English football at stake, it’s all to play for when Queens Park Rangers and Derby County face each other at Wembley Stadium this Saturday. Derby finished the Championship season in third place, five points ahead of QPR and saw off Brighton 6-2 on aggregate to make the final at Wembley.
Despite Derby striker Johnny Russell admitting he was surprised at the possibility of promotion to the top flight in his first season at the club, Derby remain slight favourites to join the Premier League due to their recent run of good form. The Rams’ last loss came to Middlesbrough at the start of April and since then they have won seven from eight games, amassing a goal difference of 13.
QPR however will be driven by a desire to return to the league they were deservedly relegated from just more than a year ago. Should they succeed on Saturday, QPR will be just the third team to have been relegated from the top flight, only to be promoted through the playoffs the very next year. Harry Redknapp’s side have enjoyed a decent season following relegation last year, and the ex-Tottenham manager will be hoping to become victorious again in the stadium where he won the 2008 FA Cup with Portsmouth.
With promotion estimated to be worth £120 million to Saturday’s winner, failure at Wembley will have drastic consequences to either club in the final game of Championship season.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3.00pm
Derby 1 (Eustace) QPR 0, Championship, February 2014
QPR 2 (Jenas, Eustace (og)) Derby 1 (Dawkins), Championship, November 2013
QPR 0 Derby 0, Championship, April 2011
Derby 2 (Commons, Bailey) QPR 2 (Agyemang, Mackie), Championship, August 2010
No second tier side has conceded more goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season than the Rams (11, including play-offs).
The Rams have won four of their last five play-off games, including their most recent final (1-0 v West Bromwich Albion in 2007).
Of the 15 players used by Harry Redknapp's side in the semi-finals, only Charlie Austin and Yun Suk-Young have never played in the top-flight of English football.
Derby County's 1-0 victory over QPR in February ended a run of six consecutive games against the R's without a victory (D3 L3).
Derby to win: 2.37
QPR to win: 3.0
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 3.00pm, highlights on BBC One at 11.30pm