On the Monday the 27th of May, at 3pm GMT, the nPower Championship Playoff Final will be played out between Crystal Palace and Watford. The winning team will be promoted to the Premier League, and the losing team will have to try again next season. As the build-up to the game intensifies, both sets of fans are reminded of the importance of this game.
Watford were only 2 points behind 2nd place Hull City, who gained automatic promotion along with champions Cardiff City, and will feel that they have really missed out if they fail to secure promotion on the day. Of course, Crystal Palace will feel the repercussions too, having led the table at one point this season. But why is this game so important? Apart from the obvious (opportunity to play in the Premier League) the answer is simple: Money. Whoever wins this match will be rewarded with an estimated total of 90 Million Pounds! This revenue, coming mainly from new broadcasting deals, and commercial income would be an incredible opportunity for the winning team to invest and potentially establish themselves in the Premier League for years to come. This means that this one match is the financially biggest sports match in the world!
The big question now is: Which team will win? Neither team has been in spectacular form recently, with Crystal Palace picking up 1 win and 4 draws in the last ten games of the Championship (excluding playoffs), whereas Watford have only picked up 3 wins and 2 draw in the same number of fixtures. However, in those ten games Crystal Palace have managed to score 8 goals and concede 18, while Watford have scored 14 and conceded 13. In the playoff semi-finals, Crystal Palace comfortably beat Brighton 2-0 on aggregate; while stoppage time drama gave Watford the victory over Leicester in a 3-2 aggregate win.
The teams look to be equally matched, however Palace will be missing their star striker Glenn Murray, who was scored 31 goals in 45 appearances this season, which could have a large impact. Meanwhile Watford seem to have a full line-up ready, including the in-form Matej Vydra, who won the Championship Player of the Year and also scored his first goal for Watford against Crystal Palace earlier this season. If you have not seen this guy in action, I suggest you do, for example his goal against Leicester was outstanding.
It seems like we will have a very interesting match on our hands, as both sets of players will surely be reminded how important this game is for their respective clubs.
From what I have seen, I believe that Watford as a team have what it takes to edge it out, and coupled with slightly superior form and not missing any important players they should win it. However as it is one game anything could happen, and Crystal Palace could walk away with promotion, and 90M Pounds. I predict a 2-1 victory for Watford.