The most intriguing opening-round fixtures in the Championship
It may officially be a second-tier competition, but for many the Championship is considered elite. The high standard at which it is played, the league’s television coverage and huge following, along with the sheer unpredictability of the division, make it a real staple in the football calendar — at least on British shores.
And, with the World Cup set to take place in Qatar throughout November and December, this summer’s quick turnaround means the Championship is due to get back underway later this month — with Huddersfield Town hosting Burnley at the John Smith’s Stadium in the opening fixture on Friday, June 29th.
It’s an exciting opening weekend of action, with an accumulator looking increasingly hard to build in the football betting odds. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most intriguing fixtures as all 24 teams attempt to start the new campaign off on the right foot.
Huddersfield vs Burnley
What better way to kick off a fiery division like the Championship than with a War of the Roses? It might not be the most ill-tempered of the classic Lancashire vs Yorkshire sporting rivalries, but there’s always bragging rights at stake when the red rose of Lancashire meets the white rose of Yorkshire.
It’s hard to predict how this game is going to pan out, with no one really sure what to expect from Vincent Kompany’s new-look Burnley. But the same can be said about the Terriers, who are more likely to be relegated under new boss Danny Schofield than make the play-offs like they did under Carlos Corberán last term.
Huddersfield are the ever-so-slight favourites for the tie though, so the former Manchester City captain might not enjoy the perfect start to life as the permanent successor of Sean Dyche — who has left big boots to fill at Turf Moor this season.
Cardiff City vs Norwich City
Another relegated side hoping they can return to the promised land of Premier League football at the first time of asking, Norwich City, who are the favourites to win the Championship, will start their campaign with a trip to the Welsh capital to take on Cardiff City.
There is pressure on Dean Smith to ensure that the Canaries do yo-yo back to the top flight straight away by earning their third promotion in five years (winning the league title in 2019 and 2021 respectively). His chances will be helped should they hold onto Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons and Teemu Pukki.
Having finished 18th in the Championship last season, it’s no surprise that Norwich are the favourites to win this game and all three points will be the perfect start to the campaign for Smith.
Middlesborough vs West Brom
A battle between two sides tipped to be in the fight for promotion come the end of the season, the three points on offer at the Riverside in the evening kick off on July 30th could go a very long way for either side — even at this very early stage.
Middlesbrough were unlucky to miss out on the play-offs last season, with just two wins in their last five games meaning they finished five points adrift of Luton Town in sixth, but Chris Wilder and his men will be more fired up this season after that disappointment and the arrival of Zack Steffen only strengthens their ranks.
The Baggies will also be unhappy with their 10th-place finish last term, but they don’t have too much ground to make up as they were just eight points behind the Hatters. It’s hard to see Steve Bruce’s men coming away from the North East with all three points in this game though.