Best Odds: 5/2
There are just a handful of domestic and European games remaining this season, as we look ahead to a summer without a World Cup or European Championships to get excited about. Of course, while many teams have already started booking their summer holidays, a few still have some big games left ahead of them. Two such teams are Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa, who are both one game away from playing in one of the most profitable games of football in the world.
West Brom have had a strong first season back in the Championship, but if they fail to beat Villa, it’ll almost certainly be remembered as a failure. They’ve got a lot of work to do after what happened in the first leg and while they may feel hard done by, that’s what happens in football. They’ve got a strong squad and they’re more than capable of getting the job done in high pressure situations, but they are really going to have to rely on the Hawthorns crowd to get them through.
Gayle is suspended after being sent off in the first leg, with Rodriguez being set to come into the starting XI.
Aston Villa’s turnaround means that there’s a very clear objective for them in this game: avoid defeat. We don’t think they’ll go out there and stick ten men behind the ball because that hasn’t been in their nature this season, but there’s certainly a reason to believe they’ll be defending much more than we’re used to seeing. If they can maintain their focus then they’re definitely the favourites to not only get through this semi final, but to also go on and beat either Leeds or Derby at Wembley.
Hourihane is expected to replace Whelan in the starting line-up, with Andre Green also being tipped to feature. Steer will also probably keep his place ahead of Kalinic.
Factors to Consider
- Aston Villa won the first leg 2-1 after coming from 1-0 down at Villa Park.
- West Brom have won three, drawn one and lost two of their last six games.
- Aston Villa have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six games.
- West Brom have scored 11 goals and conceded nine in their last six games.
- Aston Villa have scored nine goals and conceded five in their las six games.
West Brom are going to come straight at Villa, but you’d have to imagine they’re going to be ready for that. We think the Baggies will indeed take the lead pretty early on which will put the visitors on the back foot, but Vila are good at keeping their composure – which is exactly what we’re expecting them to do. We can see them grabbing an equaliser after catching the home side on the break, meaning that the end result will be Villa booking their place at Wembley courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate win.
Best Odds: 5/2
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