The eagerly anticipated fixture list for the English Football League has been released and there are definitely some encounters that will get the blood pumping during the 2017/18 Championship season as fans begin to count down to the first kick.
We will fortunately view some of the largest rivalries and derbies in this country from the second-tier in what could prove to be an exhilarating twelve months ahead for clubs fighting for their life to stay in the division, or battle for the right to play in the Premier League. Here are some of the games you have to look out for in the Championship.
The 'Steel City' Derby
This encounter is easily one of the most reckless ties in English football and it has been a derby the neutral has dearly missed since Sheffield Wednesday's promotion to the Championship five years ago. Prior to that the Owls and their city rivals Sheffield United were in League One, but the Blades gained promotion to the second-tier at the end of a highly successful season last year. The overall head-to-head record is coincidentally equal, Wednesday and United share 48 victories each in the 140 meetings between the two clubs.
It is highly likely both 'Steel City' derbies next term will be televised so there are two dates you need to note down; the first comes at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium on the 23rd September, which will be the initial meeting since 2012 for the two Sheffield teams. The second outing is at Bramall Lane on the 13th January in a game where either side could be seeking for revenge. Both grounds suit this historic derby with fans almost sitting right upon the touchline in what you would consider 'traditional stadia'.
West Midlands Derby
Aston Villa share a rivalry with the majority of Midland-based clubs but none come closer to the ferocious encounters between them and Birmingham City, especially a couple of years ago when both were plying their trade in the Premier League. The two clubs faced difficult circumstances last time out when the Blues narrowly avoided the thought of League One football, whereas Villa had to settle for mid-table in their first-ever campaign in the highly-competitive Championship.
A notorious hatred between both sets of fans will return when the two experienced managers in charge of either sides lock horns on the 28th October. Harry Redknapp takes his Birmingham City squad to Villa Park, this encounter ended one-apiece last season. The reserve outing comes in February when Steve Bruce hopes to pick up three points against the local rivals, who are separated by a measly 3.5 miles.
East Midlands Rivalry
Regularly referred to as the East Midlands rivalry, Derby County versus Nottingham Forest is definitely a match-up that the Premier League has missed for years with it becoming one of the most undecided fixtures in recent history. The Rams had a rather more enjoyable campaign to savour last term compared to their bitter neighbours who confirmed their Championship status on the final day of the 2016/17 season. Form goes out the window when these two clubs face each other, which can often be the case in this division, as Forest marginally have the advantage in the head-to-head record with their 39 wins compared to Derby's 37 triumphs.
Both outfits have managers who were appointed towards the latter stages of last campaign as Mark Warburton is at the helm for Nottingham Forest, meanwhile Gary Rowett takes charge of the Rams. The first meeting for next year comes in early October as Derby County host their vicious rivals and the encounter at the City Ground comes five months later on the 10th March.
Now a regular fixture in modern English football, Sunderland and Middlesbrough only really became an intense clash in the 1990's as both clubs played out in the old Division 1, more commonly known as the Championship nowadays. For 'Boro supporters this is their priority rivalry, however, the Black Cats don't view it as heated as when they come up against Newcastle United. Currently managerless, the Black Cats lead the overall battle as they victor on 61 wins to Middlesbrough's 46 out of a total of 144 clashes between the two.
Garry Monk is tasting his first ever Tees-Wear derby having taken the opportunity to manage at Riverside and will lead his team out against Sunderland at home on the 4th November, which comes prior to that month's international break. Whereas the short journey for the reserve fixture comes in late February in a game which could prove pivotal for either club to achieve their ambitions.