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Watch 2018 Football League Playoffs free live stream, more

The fight for the final spot in the Premier League kicks off Friday.
Matej Vydra (23) led the Championship with 21 goals this season. (Photo: Getty Images)

There hasn't been much drama in the top two leagues of English soccer throughout the 2017-18 season. Manchester City has bullied its way to one of the best campaigns in Premier League history while Wolverhampton clinched the top spot of the Skybet Football Championship by nine points on its way back to the top flight. 

Cardiff City joined Wolves as Premier League promotees after Fulham lost to Birmingham City on Sunday, which ensured the Cottagers would be one of the four teams in the Championship Playoffs. 

For those clubs finishing third, fourth, fifth and sixth, they have an opportunity to compete for one last promotion spot, deemed the most expensive match in world soccer as going up to the Premier League would add at least $230 million in revenue next season. 

Joining Fulham is Derby County, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, all sides who have spent extended time in England's top flight. 

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Fulham finished just two points behind second-place Cardiff City with 88 points as they look poised to complete a comeback from the brink of a much more threatening drop just two seasons ago. 

After being relegated from the Premier League in 2014, ending a 13-year stay in the top flight, Fulham sank to 17th in the Championship in 2014-15 and 20th the following year, just 11 points clear of the first relegation slot. 

They'll be facing a Derby County side that has been stuck in the Championship for the past 10 years after a brief one-year stint in the Premier League where it set a record for the least points recorded in a season with a measly 11 from 38 matches. The Rams have made the playoffs twice in the previous four years but lost to Leicester in the 2014 Final and Hull in the 2016 semifinals. 

Derby holds the league's top scorer in Matej Vydra, who tallied 21 goals this season.

Derby County vs. Fulham viewing information

1st Leg: Friday, May 11

Time: 2:40 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

2nd Leg: Monday, May 14

Time: 2:40 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

 

The second semifinal matchup contains one of the most storied clubs in England in Aston Villa, whose 21 trophies rank fifth among all teams in the country. Villa took part in each of the first 24 years of the Premier League before being relegated two years ago. They're received a significant boost from Lewis Grabban, on loan from Bournemouth, after he was moved from Sunderland in January. His 20 total goals rank second in the Championship. 

Middlesbrough has an opportunity to make a quick jump back to the Premier League after being relegated last year. It was their first year back in the top flight after a seven-year run in the Championship. Prior to that, Boro spent 14 of the previous 17 seasons in the Premier League. 

Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough viewing information

1st Leg: Saturday, May 12

Time: 12:10 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

2nd Leg: Tuesday, May 15

Time: 2:40 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Watch ESPN