The Championship season is just days away with the first round of fixtures getting underway this weekend. The 2019/2020 campaign is set to be one of the most open in recent times with several candidates vying for the top two automatic promotion places. Here are some of the things to look out for in the Championship: Match Day 1. Bet on the Championship here.
Baptism of fire for Luton Town?
Luton Town entertain Middlesbrough in their first Championship match in 12 years following back-to-back promotions. Luton had fallen into non-league for five years following their departure from the Championship in 2007, but have completed their return courtesy of a third promotion in six seasons. Their match against Boro will be a tough one. However, Luton had an outstanding home record in League One, winning 16 and drawing the other seven. Can they start on a positive note? Middlesbrough are without a doubt an established team. They’ve been perennial playoff contender after relegation from the top flight in 2017. Therefore, the Hatters could be in for a long night on Friday.
Promotion hopefuls at Ashton Gate
Promotion hopefuls Leeds United visit Bristol City for their 2019/2020 opener in a mouth-watering encounter at Ashton Gate. Marcelo Bielsa reached the playoffs last season only to be knocked out by Derby County. Bristol City finished eighth last season and have made tremendous progress in the last few years and are even tipped to make the playoffs this season. Ahead of this match, the Whites are facing major injury issues with key players such as Tyler Roberts, Kemar Roofe and Gaetano Berardi, who is suspended, expected to miss out. For this reason, Leeds could be shorthanded for this fixture which they have dominated in the last few years winning four out of the last five.
Cocu’s debut at Derby County
Phillip Cocu is set to take charge of his match of Championship side Derby County this weekend against Huddersfield Town. The 48-year-old was appointed boss of the English second-tier side after Frank Lampard left to join Chelsea. In his first job as a manager, Cocu guided PSV Eindhoven to three league titles and a Dutch Cup. However, a disastrous spell in charge of Fenerbahçe is still fresh in the minds of many Rams fans. Dutch coaches have not had success outside the Netherlands in recent years. For instance, Frank De Boer had a short stay at Crystal Palace and Jaap Stam’s second season at Reading blighted their reputation in English football but can Cocu help restore it?
Positive start for Slaven Bilic at West Brom
West Brom’s bid for a quick return to the Premier League ended in tragic fashion, as they were beaten on penalties by Midlands rivals Aston Villa in the playoffs last season. The Baggies finished fourth in the regular season in fourth place, 14 points above Forest. The board decided to dismiss Darren Moore and replace him with ex-West Ham head coach Slaven Bilic, who will take charge of his first match against Forest. Bilic is a highly experienced coach. He spent six years in charge of Croatia between 2006 and 2012, leading his country to two European Championships. He has also had spells in charge of Hajduk Split, Lokomotiv Moscow, Besiktas and the Hammers. His experience means his stint should start on a positive note.
Flying start for Stoke
Stoke City have been tipped to have a good season. Last season, they finished 16th following a poor run of results and the sacking of Gary Rowett. However, with former Luton Town manager Nathan Jones at the helm, the Potters are primed to be one of the best. This weekend, they face Queens Park Rangers in their first match. QPR have lost seven of their last ten away matches in the Championship, a record which is unlikely to change. Their squad depth and the imaginative coaching by Jones, Stoke should easily claim all three points on Saturday.