Middlesbrough vs Aston Villa
English League Championship Play-offs
Date: Saturday, 12th May 2018
Kick-off at 17:15UK/ 18:15 CET
Venue: Riverside Stadium (Middlesbrough).
The pinnacle of the EFL Championship season has arrived and the play-offs are here and this changes the game completely. Each team will be playing to their best with passion and determination to book their place in the English Premier League next season.
The Saturday game features the 5th against the 4th team in the regular season – Middlesbrough against Aston Villa. The Riverside Stadium is the venue for the first leg and the penultimate leg will be played at the Villa Park on Tuesday, 15th May 2018.
Tony Pulis managed to stabilize the Boro after levitating most of the season near the play-offs but not quite in them. The team was stable most of the season at home and will be looking to take advantage.
Pulis is expected to field his team in a 4-3-3 formation with Downing and Adama Traore being the main attacking threat from the wings. Up front should be Britt Assombalonga but with Bamford will also be pushing for a place in the starting lineup after scoring again against Ipswich in the last day of the season.
Aston Villa started this season slow. They had troubles then John Terry got injured and the team was struggling at some point. Steve Bruce is an experienced head coach and knows how to take good results in such games. His team will most likely be cautious limiting the available space as Middlesbrough has plenty of pace on the wings.
Aston Villa is expected to pull their wide players deeper going from 4-3-3 to 4-1-4-1. The team will keep its defensive shape at all times and will attack with any given opportunity. The team was slightly rotated in the last round and the Villans should be fresh coming into this tie.
Middlesbrough vs Aston Villa: Head-to-head
Middlesbrough has 3 straight victories at home
Middlesbrough has just 1 defeat and 7 victories in their last 8 home games
Middlesbrough is unbeaten in 4 games scoring 2 goals in each
Aston Villa has 1 victory in their last 5 away games
Aston Villa is unbeaten in 5 games against Middlesbrough at Riverside
The teams met 3 times this season: 0-0 at Villa Park, 2-0 for Middlesbrough and again at Villa Park for the Carabao Cup resulted in a 1-0 victory for Aston Villa at Riverside.
Middlesbrough vs Aston Villa: Predictions
This game is of huge importance to both sides. The team will be cautious and will be just testing the opposition early on rather than going for goals. We can expect a close game which should start slowly with Middlesbrough being slight favourites with their home advantage.
Middlesbrough vs Aston Villa: Bet Tips
Correct score Draw 0-0 at half time at 2.70
Middlesbrough 0.0 Draw-No-Bet at 1.60.