Cardiff to win
Sheffield Wednesday head into their opening day fixture in the worst possible scenario; already finding themselves 12 points from safety.
They were less than 12 points clear of the relegation zone last season and are an obvious contender for the drop this year.
The Owls, therefore, will almost have to approach every single game as a six-pointer and it is crucial that they get off to a good a start.
It won’t be easy, however.
Cardiff will still be smarting from their play-off semi-final defeat to Fulham, but will be looking to build on the improvements they made after lockdown that saw them win seven of their last ten games.
If Cardiff play anywhere near the level they showed at the end of last season, Sheffield Wednesday could be in further trouble come 5pm.
Derby to win
Phillip Cocu needs his Derby side to push for promotion this season if he wants to keep his job at the end of the season.
Derby endured one of their worst seasons in recent memory last year, missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and never really threatening to break into the top-six.
Wayne Rooney has had time to acclimatise to the demands of the Championship and this could well be his last season before he goes into full-time management.
Derby need to take advantage of Rooney’s presence this season and have to open their Championship account with an opening day win over Reading.
Reading survived last season courtesy of a mid-season improvement, but they tailed off towards the end of the campaign and could well be a candidate for the drop this time around.
They haven’t strengthened at all over the summer and this is a huge opportunity for Derby to get off to the perfect start.
This game could easily have been the opening day fixture in League One if things had gone a little differently last season.
Both clubs pulled off miraculous escapes to retain their Championship status and both will be near the bottom of the table this time around as well.
The two sides recorded impressive wins in the first round of the League Cup – Barnsley beating Nottingham Forest and Luton beating recently-relegated Norwich, although Norwich’s squad had been badly depleted because of international absences.
These sides tend to cancel each other out, whether it be matching each other’s miraculous escapes or impressive cup upsets. They also drew on the last occasion they faced one another in a relegation six-pointer at Kenilworth Road in July.
This one has draw written all over it.
Nottingham Forest to win
QPR suffered the expected but crippling blow of losing Eberechi Eze over the summer and his loss will be hard-felt at a club that has been consistently poor since its relegation from the Premier League in 2015.
The London club will be nervously looking over their shoulders all season and the possibility of a relegation battle has never looked more likely.
Forest, on the other hand, will be hoping for a quick start to put last season’s final day embarrassment and misery behind them.
The Midlands club have signed well over the summer and are a real contender to go up this season.
They won convincingly at Loftus Road last season and should do so again this year.
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