It is regarded by many to be the richest game in soccer, and for the teams involved, it can be the difference between the untold wealth of the English Premier League or another season grinding
out results in an effort to make it to the top flight.
Aston Villa and Derby County both came through their respective play-off semi-finals to book a final date at Wembley on Monday, May 27th.
Both sides were underdogs in their ties but won, to the huge relief of fans, coaches, and players alike.
Leeds United and West Brom must now lick their wounds and plan for another EFL Championship campaign. But Aston Villa and Derby County know that they are 90 minutes (and possibly extra time and
penalties) away from the promised land of the Premier League.
I’m going to take a look at both teams to see whether there are any factors that will help with predicting which way the final will go — and who to back in the big game.
EFL Championship Play-Off Final Latest Odds
The main betting markets concerning the play-off final are the outright winner and also who will qualify. Here are the latest odds courtesy of Betway.
Aston Villa to Win2.25
Derby County to Win3.30
Aston Villa to Lift the Trophy1.66
Derby County to Lift the Trophy2.20
With a few weeks before the final, the extra day that Aston Villa has had to rest will not make too much difference, but bookmakers still fancy the chances of Dean Smith’s side ahead of Derby.
Given the end-of-season winning streak and the talent in the Villa team — Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham in particular — it is not hard to understand why Betway has come to that decision.
But Derby has some phenomenal Championship talent of its own in players like Harry Wilson and Mason Mount and will feel as though it will have a very good chance in this one-off extravaganza of
I’m going to look at both teams individually before making my EFL Championship play-off final pick.
The perceived wisdom when it comes to the play-offs is that the club that finishes the regular-season with a late surge of form, picking up the points, will go on to shock the teams that finish
above it in the table and win promotion to the Premier League. Well, if that is the case, then Aston Villa should be odds on to be celebrating at the end of May.
The West Midlands club went unbeaten from the end of February to the final day of the season — managing a season record of ten successive wins — to finish fifth in the Championship. With such
momentum, it should have been expected that Villa would beat West Brom to set up a play-off final with Derby.
Villa had actually only won ten games in the entire season up until that point and was as low as 11th with just two months of the season to go. There is a lot of Premier League
experience in the Aston Villa squad, though, and they needed all of it to squeeze past West Brom on penalties after drawing 2-2 on aggregate.
Interestingly, if the away goals rule were still in effect in the play-offs, it would now be the Baggies preparing for their big day out.
If you are looking for omens, then Villa was the losing finalist in last year’s play-off final, and there is some history of clubs going one better the season after the massive disappointment of
final defeat. Although statistically the team finishing 3rd has ended up being promoted more times over the past 20 years than anyone else, the next “luckiest” position is fifth —
where Aston Villa finished its season.
As far as a player to look out for, betting fans should look no further than Tammy Abraham — on loan from Chelsea — who has scored 26 goals this season and is a massive threat up front.
He was expected by many to leave in the January transfer window for a Premier League club but stayed at Aston Villa, who will surely look to sign the player permanently if he fires them to the
Jack Grealish is the real star, though, and it is his playmaking expertise that has propelled Villa into the play-offs and the final itself. His precision and passing are worthy of the Premier
League, and if Villa is not successful against Derby, it is highly likely that he will be snapped up by a club that is in the top flight next season.
Much has been made of Frank Lampard’s first-season success as a manager, but it will be all for nothing if his side does not win its next game at Wembley. There have been impressive cup runs as
well as the league campaign to enjoy for Derby fans, and confidence is sky high at the club after the win over Leeds.
Derby also proved the late surge theory correct, only losing one game in its last 12 to take the final play-off spot and set up the semi-final against Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
After losing the first leg at home, it seemed as though all that effort had been in vain, but the Rams came from behind to win a gloriously tense game at Elland Road and will now compete in its
fourth Championship play-off final.
Derby has actually been involved in the play-offs in two of the last three seasons and will feel as though its time has come. Although, the last time it was successful in the final, it went on to
collect just 11 points the next season — the fewest ever in Premier League history.
Although fans will still be feeling ecstatic about beating Leeds, there will be some trepidation of coming up against this Aston Villa side. Derby lost both regular season games by a combined
score of 7-0, and Frank Lampard will need to come up with some improved tactics to stop a repeat of those two goal-scoring sprees.
Over the season, the two sides actually conceded around the same number of goals, but Derby scored 13 fewer than Aston Villa in the 46 league games and will be wary of the attacking threat that
the West Midlands team possesses.
Frank Lampard has even been linked with the manager’s job at Chelsea with Maurizio Sarri possibly leaving the club after an unpopular — if successful — season.
That might be fans and sections of the media getting carried away, but the former Stamford Bridge hero has now overseen a team overcoming a first-leg defeat at home to reach the play-off final
for the first time and will be full of confidence ahead of the Villa game.
Aston Villa vs. Derby County Prediction and Betting Pick
Even after Derby’s adrenaline-filled victory over Leeds, Aston Villa is still the favorite to win the Championship play-off final and gain promotion to the Premier League. The strength of the
Villa squad makes me believe that outcome is a distinct possibility, and with the strike power of Tammy Abraham, it has someone who can change the game in a second.
Villa was perhaps fortuitous to play against a West Brom side that received red cards in each of the semi-final legs, but it has been its late-season form that has impressed me most. I feel as if
Derby will not be able to raise its game again in the same manner as it did against Leeds, and it will be Dean Smith’s side celebrating promotion to the Premier League.
The odds of 2.25 for an Aston Villa win are not that attractive, however, so I would be more inclined to take both teams to score and a Villa victory at 4.50 as my preferred wager. It has
actually been seven years since both teams have scored in a Championship play-off final, but there is a lot of attacking talent in these two squads, and I am expecting a classic game on the day.
PICKAston Villa to Win and Both Teams to Score4.50
The Championship play-off final has become one of the most eagerly awaited games on the English soccer calendar, with neutral fans enjoying the joy and pain experienced by those of the two clubs
Aston Villa and Derby County are two sides that have enjoyed the Premier League in recent years. But only one will be going up this season to join fellow promoted clubs Norwich and Sheffield
United, and that just about guarantees that we are in for an exhilarating occasion.
Whichever way you decide to bet, make sure you stick to the best soccer betting sites when it comes to getting your money down.