May 13, 2017
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Huddersfield vs Sheffield Wednesday: Championship play-off semi-final match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

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The second Championship semi-final will feature a battle of Yorkshire as Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town compete for a place at Wembley. This will be a tactical battle as two bright coaches, David Wagner and Carlos Carvalhal, attempt to outwit the other. In the Championship season, Wednesday did the double over their Yorkshire rivals, but anything can happen in the play-offs and Town have every right to believe that they can progress from this tie.

Huddersfield came closest to breaking into the top two of the division of the teams fighting it out in the play-offs. There was a point where they were the form team of the country and right on Newcastle’s tails. However, a draw to Derby County stopped their momentum and Wagner accepted in that moment that his team would have to settle for a play-off spot. That still represents a huge achievement for Town, but three losses from their last four matches mean that they come into this match on the back of poor form. They chose to rest key players during the final few weeks of the season and they will be hoping that decision pays off with a strong performance on Sunday.

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On the other hand, Wednesday come into the play-offs in great spirits after winning six of their last seven matches. They will be disappointed to have lost on the final day against Fulham, but they had rested some key figures and will have quickly put the defeat behind them. Carlos Carvalhal’s men lost in the play-off final last season and they have the most recent experience of this situation. That should give them a slight advantage over the other three teams. They know what to expect.

Recent form

The end of the season wasn’t ideal for Town, as they lost five of their last ten matches. However, two of those losses came as a result of Wagner deciding to rest key players. A more pressing concern is that they conceded five goals without reply in their final two matches, which saw them end the season with a negative goal difference.

As mentioned above, Wednesday won six of their last seven matches to ensure that they finished in the top six. They have been one of the most consistent teams in the division this season and proved that last year’s success wasn’t a fluke. During their final eight matches, the side only conceded six times and their defensive solidity gives them a good chance of winning the play-offs.

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Predicted line-ups

Joel Coleman will start in goal for the home side, while Izzie Brown, Elias Kachunga and Nahki Wells could all start in attack. Aaron Mooy has been one of the best players in the Championship this season and he will be important to Huddersfield’s chances in this match.

Jordan Rhodes is likely to retain his place in attack as Gary Hooper struggles with an injury. Fernando Forestieri is probably going to start on the bench but will be keen to play a part in the tie as he has scored in his last three matches against Huddersfield.

Injuries/suspensions

Danny Ward will be suspended for the first leg after being sent off against Cardiff City. Elias Kachunga should be back from a calf injury to play a part on Sunday.

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Gary Hooper is the only injury concern for the away side and it would be a huge blow if he failed to recover in time for the first leg. Marco Matias will be suspended after his red card on the final day.

Match Prediction: Huddersfield Town 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday

This will be a tight and hotly contested match, with two Yorkshire clubs desperate to reach the play-off final. Sheffield Wednesday have the mental advantage as they have not lost any of their last seven matches against Huddersfield Town. It is difficult to see that record changing considering the way that both sides finished the Championship season. The away side have the experience of the play-offs and they should have enough to secure a good result at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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