Pundits have billed it as the £170m match. But the 2019 Championship play-off final between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley is about more than just two clubs fighting it out to reach the Premier League.
It’s about two clubs trying to play football the right way and it’s about two fledgling young English managers making their way in the game as Frank Lampard and Dean Smith pitch up in opposing dugouts.
Add in the small matter of it also being a Midlands derby and you’ve got all the ingredients for a scorcher. We’ve previewed it in our Championship play-off tips.
They’re that price for a reason. While both sides may be in similar form, it’s Villa who have dominated the head-to-head record. Dean Smith’s men have won 3-0 and 4-0 in their two meetings with the Rams this term.
However, Championship play-off finals are usually cagey, with seven of the last 14 ending 1-0. That scoreline in favour of Derby is priced at 9/1, with Villa 13/2 to be beneficiaries by the same margin.
Villa may revert to the side from the first-leg win over West Brom. That would mean recalls for Glenn Whelan at the base of midfield and Albert Adomah in place of youngster Andre Green up-front.
On-loan Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham will remain the focal point of the attack, with John McGinn and Jack Grealish providing the creative spark. Axel Tuanzebe and Tyrone Mings have both been immense at centre-half.
Scott Malone’s late red card against Leeds means Lampard will be forced into a change at left-back. Ashley Cole is the only real option, so he’ll come in on the opposite side to Jayden Bogle in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
It’s touch-and-go whether 13-goal man Martyn Waghorn is fit enough to start. If he misses out then Mason Bennett will lead a four-pronged attack with Harry Wilson, Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence in behind.
Hometown hero Grealish is often the man for the big occasion and can be backed at 7/2, a price he shares with McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi. Jonathan Kodjia is a 15/8 chance, with Mings a 14/1 shot from the back.
Jack Marriot and Waghorn share favouritism for the Rams. We go 11/5 the pair with Bennett and Wilson further back at 14/5 apiece. The latter of that duo is 15/2 to Score First for his 19th goal of the season.
Lawrence is the other player with real potential going forward. He’s 4/1 for his eighth Derby goal of the season.
Where: Wembley Stadium.
When: 3pm, Monday 27th May 2019.
How to Watch: Sky Sports Main Event.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication