West Bromwich hosts Aston Villa in the second leg of English Championship play-offs semifinals. The match will be played on Tuesday, May 14th at The Hawthorns (West Bromwich)
In this century, West Bromwich constantly balance between the Premier League and the Championship. One gets the impression that if there was another tournament between these two leagues, West Brom would be ideally suited for it. Each time, the Hawthorns lack something to stay in the elite for at least a few seasons. In this season, West Bromwich took fourth place in the Championship. It does not give the right to promote to the Premier League directly but allows playing in the playoffs, where the owner of another ticket, which gives the right to play in the Premier League in the next season, will be determined between four teams.
In this season, West Bromwich played more or less steadily but had no particular chance to promote directly. The men of Darren Moore gladdened with their game in the attack this year. Only the winner, Norwich, scored more than them in the Championship. Last season, West Bromwich took the last place in the Premier League; therefore, it seems that it’s too early for the team to return to the elite. Still, the Hawthorns have serious problems in defense and concede a lot even by the standards of the Championship.
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Participation of the Villans in the playoffs is the result of two excellent months (March-April). The team from Birmingham managed to win 10 matches in a row, thanks to which it climbed to fifth place. As a result, the team scored 76 points in 46 matches. In this season, Aston Villa season gladdened with its scoring. Only Norwich and West Bromwich scored more than the Villans.
Being in the Championship is unusual for the Villans. They have continuously played in the elite of English football for 24 years but relegated to the lower division in 2016. In the same year, the Chinese company became the owner of Aston Villa, but for now, it has not been in a hurry to invest in the acquisition of new players. The current head coach, Dean Smith, shoots out his cuffs. In spring, it was nice to watch the game of the Villans, so even if the team does not win in the playoffs, it will definitely claim for promotion to the Premier League in the next season. However, why Villa should build such long-term plans if it is possible to draw up a return to the elite here and now?
In this season, the teams presented the fans with two beautiful matches. West Bromwich failed to beat the Villans in the home arena. Moreover, the very team from Birmingham was closer to victory, because West Bromwich equalized the score for the second time already in the added time (2:2). Both teams had many goal attempts, so a score draw was a fair result. The return match in Birmingham was no less interesting and attacking, but the hosts failed to hit the opponents' net - 0: 2. In total, over the past 10 years, the teams held 15 meetings against each other, in which the Hawthorns celebrated the victory 5 times, the Villans - 4, and the draw was recorded 6 times.
Most likely, we will see a beautiful attacking football in this pair again. Both teams entered the top three of the most scoring teams in the Championship this season; herewith, they tried to show their offensive power in face-to-face meetings either. Thus, we should expect goals from both teams in the upcoming match.
Prediction for the match: Both teams to score - yes