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Five things: What to look out for in Matchday 1

3 August 2017

With the new EFL season beginning on Friday 4th August, it won't be long before numerous storylines unfold as the campaign begins to take its course.

Even before a ball is kicked, however, there are still plenty of talking points going into the opening weekend, and here are just five.

Friday night kick-off

The EFL season gets under way with not one, but two, Sky Bet Championship matches on Friday night.

On Sky Sports, Sunderland — returning to the division after a 10-year absence — host Derby County, ready for a first full season under the stewardship of Gary Rowett.

The night’s other game will be played under the lights of the City Ground, where Nottingham Forest entertain newly promoted Millwall. Plenty to look forward to, and that’s before the remaining 34 EFL fixtures take place.

TV Games: Click here for EFL fixtures viewable domestically and overseas

Say hello to Forest Green...

The boys from the New Lawn are finally in town. After a 19-year spell in The National League, Forest Green Rovers secured promotion at Wembley back in May, and are now ready to embark on life in the EFL.

The fixture generator handed The Little Club on the Hill a home game to begin with, and it’s Barnet up first for Mark Cooper and his troops.

Forest Green Rovers: Meet the EFL's newest club

After hitting an impressive 27 goals last term, striker Christian Doidge goes head-to-head with one of the EFL’s consistently prolific strikers - John Akinde. The Bees’ front man hit 26 goals last term, but who will get off the mark early this time around?

Bruce’s boys

Aston Villa made a slow start to life in the Championship last term, but the ship was steadied under Steve Bruce and he has higher expectations for the club this time around.

Both he and his new captain — John Terry — spoke at the #EFLSeasonLaunch about the club’s lofty ambitions, and highlighted the need for a fast start to get things up and running.

Click here for John Terry's views on the season ahead

Their first opponents are Hull City; a team the Villa boss knows well. After all, their last game at this level came with Bruce at the helm — at Wembley, defeating Sheffield Wednesday, to reach the Premier League.

Play-Off Final memories

For Bradford City, their 2016/17 campaign ended in heartache, falling to defeat in the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final at Wembley.

Eight days later, Blackpool went through opposite emotions, coming out on top in the Sky Bet League Two showpiece with a 2-1 win against Exeter City.

Will the Bantams bounce back from their disappointment? How much momentum will the Seasiders take into the new season following that memorable day at the national stadium?

Play-Off Final heartbreak: Catalyst or curse?

We’ll find out when the pair meet at Valley Parade on Matchday 1.

New season, new bosses

There have been plenty of managerial changes since the 2016/17 season came to an end, but which of the new men in charge will enjoy a successful honeymoon period at their new employers?

Daniel Farke (Norwich City), Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Leonid Slutsky (Hull City) and Thomas Christiansen (Leeds United) will all get their first taste of competitive English football in the Sky Bet Championship this weekend.

Paul Cook (Wigan Athletic), Kenny Jackett (Portsmouth), David Flitcroft (Swindon Town), Garry Monk (Middlesbrough), Simon Grayson (Sunderland) and Alex Neil (Preston North End) are the new bosses stepping out with more domestic experience under the belt.

Managers table: The longest serving EFL bosses

And that leaves Harry Kewell and Pep Clotet, who have learned their trade in coaching capacities, but are now set to go it alone. Kewell will lead out Crawley Town in League Two, while Clotet has taken the reins at League One outfit Oxford United.

Click here for the EFL Opening Weekend preview


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