Having reached the Championship play-off final after semi-final victories over Swansea and Cardiff respectively, west London neighbours Brentford and Fulham will face off for a place in next season’s Premier League.
Ahead of Tuesday’s Championship play-off final, Sky Sports presenter Scott Minto and pundit Andy Hinchcliffe discussed the Wembley showpiece alongside EFL reporter Jonathan Oakes on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast…”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.
“If you are Scott Parker, you are going to show them the play-off final, when they got promoted. Brentford are going to give Fulham a very different game to Villa. It was only counter attacks for Villa and they just couldn’t get a touch on the ball. If Brentford produce their A game, Fulham are going to have to step up.
“I’m going to go with Brentford based on what I saw in the second leg and the ability to chop and change their system; I’d choose to play for them because of the multitude of issues they cause teams. But we know all it takes is one stellar performance and you can win the game and having been there before, there’s every possibility that Fulham could do it.””The pressure going into the second leg must’ve been immense for Brentford. Those first 15 minutes changed the complexion of the whole tie, how they got into the final. If they lose they’ll be bitterly disappointed – especially against a west London rival – but they now have the positive mindset coming into the final.
“Fulham won their semi-final in the first leg, but Cardiff were superb in the second. Neil Harris can be very proud of his team but generally, over the two legs, Fulham were the better side and played the better football. The right two teams are in the final, I think.”Fulham set themselves high standards and winners, despite getting through to the final, will not be happy with their own performances. But still, they are through to the final and have a few days to, mentally, get themselves ready.”With Aleksandar Mitrovic in the side, Fulham can go long and try to beat the press if Brentford want to play that way. I think he’s key but I personally don’t see how he can start when he can’t even be on the bench [for the semi-final]. The fact he wasn’t even an option tells me, five days later, how can he be 100 per cent fit? If you’re a Brentford player and you don’t see Mitrovic on that team sheet at all, you’re thinking ‘wow’.
“If Mitrovic and Kebano were 100 per cent fit, it would have been maybe the experience – which I do think makes a difference and we know what pressure has done to Brentford – that might have edged it for Fulham. But if you take those two players out and the mentality Brentford now have, if they bring their A game, I’d just about fancy Brentford. I think this is going to be one of the best play-off finals for years, that’s what I will predict.”