Leeds could end a 16-year exile from the Premier League this week, while West Brom and Brentford face crucial games as the Championship promotion race nears a thrilling conclusion.
The second tier is famed for its unpredictability and, incredibly with just three games to go, there is not a single team mathematically guaranteed to be in the division next season.
With a crucial few days in store for the side chasing a return to the top flight, we take a closer look at the permutations and the crunch clashes taking place in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
West Brom still in title race
Remaining fixtures: Fulham (h), Huddersfield (h), QPR (a)
West Brom, like Leeds, returned this campaign with a vengeance having missed out in last season’s play-offs.
The two sides have played out an enthralling game of cat and mouse – since October, no other sides have occupied the division’s top two spaces – and though Leeds have finally put some daylight between themselves and Slaven Bilic’s side, the title, as well as promotion, is still up for grabs. Beat Fulham by a comfortable margin on Tuesday and the Baggies would reclaim the summit – until Thursday at least.
W Brom vs Fulham
July 14, 2020, 4:30pm
West Brom, whose side blends experience and young talent, with the help of inspired loans like Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana, were 10 points clear of Brentford before the restart; points dropped against Birmingham, the Bees and Blackburn mean their grip on an automatic promotion place is now just three points.
But Bilic is backing his players to hold their nerve – and end Fulham’s top-two hopes in the process. “We are playing good, really good – we are scoring goals, making chances, being compact, being intense,” he said. “There is no reason for us to doubt ourselves because our performance level is high.”
Will Brentford stay in automatic promotion hunt?
Remaining fixtures: Preston (h), Stoke (a), Barnsley (h)
Thomas Frank’s side are certainly making a fight of it.
Brentford have not played in the top flight since 1946/47 but a stunning run of form since the restart means they’re still in the race for automatic promotion.
Brentford vs Preston
July 15, 2020, 4:30pm
The Bees have won the last seven league games, have won the most points in the Championship this calendar year (38) and with the best home record in the league to boot, will fancy their chances against struggling Stoke and Barnsley as they look to sign off from Griffin Park in style.
Could their goalscoring prowess prove crucial? Brentford are three points behind the Baggies with time running out but, as the top scorers in the division (78 goals), have a far superior goal difference than Bilic’s side.
“We knew when we went into this restart we were 10 points off the top two so that was a very difficult task,” Frank said. “Our aim was to win as many games as possible and first and foremost to secure a play-off place and then see what is happening… right now, we are in a very good place.”
Leeds on the brink
Remaining fixtures: Barnsley (h), Derby (a), Charlton (h)
After the heartache of last season, when a late collapse saw Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United pip them to the Premier League before losing out in the play-offs to Derby, Leeds’ long wait is almost over.
Pablo Hernandez’s 89th-minute strike against Swansea felt pivotal; just four points will clinch promotion now and if Brentford lose on Wednesday, victory for Leeds at home to rock-bottom Barnsley on Thursday would seal it with two games to spare.
Leeds vs Barnsley
July 16, 2020, 4:30pm
A 2-0 defeat to Cardiff set nerves jangling in the run-in again but Leeds have won four of their five games since.
Continuity has paid off. Marcelo Bielsa has never made secret the fact he prefers to work with a smaller squad and, barring loanees Ben White and Helder Costa, his team has remained largely unchanged since he arrived at Elland Road two years ago.
Hernandez has been influential despite his advancing years while White and Liam Cooper have formed a formidable partnership at the back; working in tandem with Kalvin Phillips – the midfielder touted as a future England star – they boast the division’s meanest defence.
The reward is tantalisingly close but Bielsa is keeping a cool head. “I cannot enjoy this. What you feel just is that you are taking a step forward. The only thing I can enjoy is the last objective if we get it.”
Who else is in the play-off mix?
Fulham would keep their slim automatic promotion hopes alive with victory over West Brom but Scott Parker’s side are set to battle in the play-offs for a third successive time in a Championship season, despite winning their last four league games.
But there’s an almighty scramble below them for two more play-off places.
Nottingham Forest have a five-point cushion over sixth-placed Cardiff, who were on a six-game unbeaten run before successive defeats have left them vulnerable.
Just three points separate Swansea in seventh and Blackburn in 12th, with Preston, Millwall, Derby and Bristol City all hoping for a late flourish.
Derby have dropped to 10th after taking just one point from nine, while Preston have won just one of their last nine, but Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster is spearheading Swansea’s charge and Bristol City have won both games since sacking Lee Johnson to raise hope that this could yet, finally, be their season.
Who’s going down?
The outlook seems bleak for Barnsley. They have lost just one of their last six games but with rivals also picking up points in a chaotic survival scrap, the Tykes are three points from safety and have Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Brentford left to play.
Luton are looking to avoid an immediate return to League One but a big win against Huddersfield last time out has given them hope. They are two points from safety but a clash against Hull on the penultimate matchday is crucial.
Hull, who have lost three in a row, currently occupy that third relegation spot, though Charlton, on the same winless run and with a trip to Leeds on the final night, are only a point above them.
Huddersfield, who have neither won nor scored in their last three league games, are just two points clear of the bottom three, while Middlesbrough, despite appointing Neil Warnock, remain in peril on the same number of points. It has been 33 years since Boro, who have won two and lost three of their five games under Warnock, slipped into the third tier.
Follow the Championship finale live on Sky
Sky Sports will show 30 Sky Bet Championship games by the end of the season, as well all EFL play-off games., exclusively live. You can follow the action with our dedicated blogs on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app, as well as watching match highlights shortly after full-time.
Tues July 14: West Brom vs Fulham – 5pm
Wed July 15: Brentford vs Preston – 5pm
Thurs July 16: Leeds vs Barnsley – 5pm
Friday July 17: Huddersfield vs West Brom – 5.30pm
Saturday July 18: Stoke vs Brentford – 12.30pm
Sunday July 19: Derby vs Leeds – 2pm
Further games selected for live broadcast to be confirmed.
All the Championship fixtures
Tuesday, July 14
West Bromwich Albion vs Fulham – 5pm, Sky Sports
Reading vs Middlesbrough – 6pm
Wigan Athletic vs Hull City – 6pm
Cardiff City vs Derby County – 7.45pm
Luton Town vs Queens Park Rangers – 7.45pm
Millwall vs Blackburn Rovers – 7.45pm
Sheffield Wednesday vs Huddersfield Town – 7.45pm
Wednesday, July 15
Brentford vs Preston North End – 5pm, Sky Sports
Birmingham City vs Charlton Athletic – 6pm
Nottingham Forest vs Swansea City – 6pm
Bristol City vs Stoke City – 7.45pm
Thursday, July 16
Leeds United vs Barnsley – 5pm, Sky Sports
Friday, July 17
Huddersfield Town vs West Bromwich Albion – 5.30pm, Sky Sports
Saturday, July 18
Charlton Athletic vs Wigan Athletic – 12.30pm
Stoke City vs Brentford – 12.30pm, Sky Sports
Blackburn Rovers vs Reading – 3pm
Fulham vs Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm
Hull City vs Luton Town – 3pm
Middlesbrough vs Cardiff City – 3pm
Preston North End vs Birmingham City – 3pm
Queens Park Rangers vs Millwall – 3pm
Swansea City vs Bristol City – 3pm
Sunday, July 19
Derby County vs Leeds United – 2pm, Sky Sports
Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest – 3pm
Wednesday, July 22
Birmingham City vs Derby County
Brentford vs Barnsley
Bristol City vs Preston North End
Cardiff City vs Hull City
Leeds United vs Charlton Athletic
Luton Town vs Blackburn Rovers
Millwall vs Huddersfield Town
Nottingham Forest vs Stoke City
Reading vs Swansea City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Middlesbrough
West Bromwich Albion vs Queens Park Rangers
Wigan Athletic vs Fulham