The Championship play-off final is the most expensive game that is played in world football. With hundreds of millions of pounds at stake, big bucks are splashed around, with the winner also gets the prestigious trophy and promotion to the Premier League.
England’s second division of football is known for producing fairytales. Remember when Lincoln FC defied all odds to make it to the final stage at Wembley or when Leicester City got the better of Derby County in 1994? Brentford may very well be the next in line.
A team should have quality and strength but to beat oppositions who look better on paper you should have courage. Facing teams like Liverpool or Manchester City week in and week out is not a beginner’s job. But with the right determination and heart, you can demolish these champion sides. Something like Claudio Ranieri did with the Foxes in the 2015/16 campaign.
One such team who could replicate Leicester’s fairytale run is Brentford FC. The Bees of English football have once again made it to the Championship play-off final for the second time running. Thomas Frank’s troops crushed Jonathan Woodgate’s Bournemouth by 3 goals to 1 in the second leg of the semi-final.
🥰 THIS MOMENT 🥰
🐝 3-1 (3-2)🍒#BrentfordFC #BREBOU pic.twitter.com/o0HLYxfyI7
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) May 22, 2021
But the smiles on the faces of the Brentford players indeed hide the sweat, determination, and hard work they had put in while training and in the Championship.
WHAT HAS GONE WRONG?
The Bees have by far been the top-notch team in England’s second division. But their composure is the one that is under question. Throwing away leads, creating waves of attack only to sky the ball above the post, and making unnecessary mistakes are all the characteristics they possess. Until the playoffs, Frank’s squad rarely face any hiccups but when the knockouts arrive they start having a lot of headaches.
How often do you see a team that has netted the most number of goals and has the most solid defense not being promoted? Brentford was busy smashing records while attacking as well as while defending, but couldn’t completely climb the ladder of success.
Last year they fell at the last step. Lifting the trophy seemed inevitable but they ended up losing to Fulham who got the opportunity to redeem themselves in the Premier League. The mindset with which a team should approach a knockout is missing and the lack of determination is the reason for an empty trophy cabinet.
And it’s not like they don’t have an exemplary squad playing in front of the fans at the Brentford Community Stadium. The Bees have boasted of players who have cashed themselves in the biggest competitions around Europe.
The likes of Ollie Watkins and Benrahma are producing magical performances for their squads in the Premier League. The question remains how did Brentford not lift the Championship trophy ages ago especially with the world-class roster they possessed.
THE WALK TO GLORY
Once again Brentford weaved magic on the field when they locked horns with any of their rivals. Scoring an unimaginable 79 goals Frank’s team was just busy raising the bar. A semi-final spot looked obvious as they finished third in the league. The Bees were to battle it out with the Cherries if they wanted a spot at Wembley. But once again Brentford succumbed to the pressure that the Cherries put on them. A loss in the first leg meant either they had to turn the deficit or go back home and start from scratch.
The most goals in a @SkyBetChamp season…
Introducing @BrentfordFC’s Ivan Toney.
Record breaker. 👏👏👏#EFL | #SkyBetChampionship pic.twitter.com/QbZzpjaJfJ
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) May 8, 2021
The second leg started with some tension in the air as Brentford had a long road in front of them. Bournemouth just had to absorb the pressure, had to be defensively dominant and they would get their ticket to Wembley.
And the party began early for Jonathon Woodgate and his squad. The Cherries were in front just five minutes into the game thanks to an Arnaut Danjuma strike. The visitors screamed in joy as a clearer picture started to form in front of their eyes.
But like every other fairytale story, Brentford’s story also had a few twists and turns. They didn’t need a half-time talk to switch into the required aggressive zone. What followed next was extraordinary.
The Bees kept on creating colossal amounts of attacks. It seemed as if Asmir Begovic would have one of the busiest nights of his long career. And soon Brentford got a penalty which was converted by them to half the deficit.
Bournemouth suffered a huge blow to their chances when Chris Mepham was sent off for a last man foul in the 28th minute.
The teams returned to the pitch and the fans had a hint that Thomas Frank won’t let his players escape that easily. Once again five minutes into half the back of the net bulged. But it was the home team this time who had salvaged a goal.
We are @BrentfordFC ! 🐝🐝 ❤️❤️⚽️⚽️ great to have fans back , now onto the final 🙌👊👊 pic.twitter.com/94YbNmdkdk
— Marcus Forss (@mforss_) May 22, 2021
It was all square on aggregate and the home fans could smell blood. Once again both the teams kept their opposite numbers working. But it was the Bees who were on the way to fly to the final against Swansea.
The last twist arrived in the 81st minute of the game. The Bees stung the Cherries to get into consecutive play-off finals. Marcus Forss scored the all-important goal and the stadium erupted, it just erupted. Fans were singing Brentford’s anthem, the players couldn’t control their emotions, and well for Bournemouth, they had lost a hard-fought battle against a quality side.
The only thing that Thomas Frank needs to do is instill in his players is confidence and the hunger to achieve glory. Vardy always knew he could rip apart defenses which is what he did, whoever lined up in front of him and Brentford can learn an important lesson from him.
Save the date. 🗓 #EFL | #EFLPlayOffs | #StepUp pic.twitter.com/VJ6jlpzk2A
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) May 22, 2021
Frank needs the Bees to have the heart of a lion if they ever want to make a case for themselves. And once again when they go up against the Welsh side, Swansea he’ll expect them to bring their A-game. The heart of a lion matched with the slyness of foxes can make a deadly combination at Brentford.