Wolves vs Middlesbrough
Date: 5th August 2017
Kickoff: 15:00 UK/16:00 CET
Venue: Molineux Stadium
Wolves and Middlesbrough are kicking off their Championship 2017/18 campaign in what looks to be a tough test for both sides. Boro are favourites to win the Championship with the majority of bookies. So, they will be looking to kick off their Championship campaign with a win in order to set the tone for the rest of the season.
Wolves, on the other hand, are tipped by most bookies to finish just outside the playoffs. A prediction Wolves will certainly want to change and there would be no better way to do so than by beating this year’s favourites for the title.
Wolves finished 15th in the Championship last season in a somewhat disappointing campaign. However, going by the money they have spent and the players they have brought in so far over the summer, Wolves are clearly out to challenge for promotion this year.
The club has brought in a number of players such as Ruben Neves, who they have broken their transfer record for, paying FC Porto £15 million for his services. Wolves have also managed to secure the season long loan of highly rated Atletico Madrid attacking midfielder Diogo Jota. Jota played for FC Porto last season and was incredibly impressive. He managed 27 league appearances scoring eight and assisting seven. The Portuguese play maker even played all eight of Porto’s Champions League games last season. He scored one goal in those games against Premier League side Leicester.
So, with the acquisitions of such top players like Neves and Jota, Wolves look a side not to be under estimated this season. Especially once last season’s star man Helder Costa returns from injury. But with or without Costa, Wolves will certainly be a solid side this season and will no doubt provide a tough test for Boro.
Injury news: Nouha Dicko missed Wolves last pre-season game through injury and may not be fit for the Boro game. Helder Costa will miss the game after undergoing ankle surgery on July 10th.
After being relegated last season with the lowest goals scored in the Premier League (27), Middlesbrough have undergone some major changes at the club in order to ‘smash’ the Championship and return to the Premier League.
The first and most obvious being the appointment of Garry Monk as Boro’s new manager. Monk has a plethora of experience as a manager both in the Premier League with Swansea City and in the Championship last season with Leeds United.
In his first interview as Boro boss Monk told reporters that, ‘After a disappointing season it is my job to give confidence to the club. We want to come back strong, come back fighting and be very competitive. We want to get on with that.’ Monk and Gibson are both clearly very keen on coming back fighting, especially when you look at the signings Boro have made. Middlesbrough have signed highly rated striker Britt Assombalonga for a club record fee of £15 million. They have also signed Ligue 1 striker Martin Braithwaite for around £9 million. Along with a host of other players, Middlesbrough have spent around £43million so far and according to Steve Gibson, Boro may still bring in another 2-3 players before the summer window shuts.
Therefore, with such high spending and such quality players brought in, Boro will surely want to make short work of Wolves and kick off their Championship campaign in style.
At this moment Boro have also still managed to keep hold of several key players including Martin De Roon and Ben Gibson. If all these key players remain at Boro this season, it will be a huge boost for Middlesbrough. Plus if they start against Wolves along with the likes of new boys Assombalonga and Braithwaite, Middlesbrough should win both the Wolves game and the league.
However, as it stands Middlesbrough’s Gaston Ramirez, whose future has been up in the air since his spat with Karanka in January, now looks to be leaving Boro. He will be joining Italian side Sampdoria. This leaves Middlesbrough without a natural number 10 to kick off the season with. A problem Monk and Boro will be hoping to fix very soon.
Injury news: Middlesbrough have no known injuries going into the Wolves match.
Wolves XI: Ruddy, Douglas, Miranda, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Neves, Saïss, Graham, Jota, Enobakhare.
Middlesbrough XI: Randolph, Christie, Gibson, Ayala, Friend, Clayton, De Roon, Howson, Bamford, Braithwaite, Assombalonga.
Head to head
The two sides have met a total of 92 times. Middlesbrough have won significantly more of the two teams exchanges with Boro winning 45 times and Wolves 27. The remaining 20 games ended in draws.
Middlesbrough will be going into this game full of confidence as Wolves have not beaten Boro since October 21st, 2014.
Last time the two sides met was March 4th, 2016. Middlesbrough came out on top that day winning 2-1. Gaston Ramirez scored both of Boro’s goals that day. However, a Ben Gibson own goal in the 89th minute denied Middlesbrough a clean sheet that day.
Both clubs have made great changes in the past year. Wolves have brought in players such as Helder Costa (made permanent in January), Ruben Neves for £15 million and Diogo Jota. Middlesbrough have similarly to Wolves, made their record signing, also £15 million along with many other top quality players. Therefore, both clubs will be aiming for promotion this season and both clubs will be going for a win to start off their campaign. However, Middlesbrough’s squad overall has more quality and one of Wolves best players Helder Costa will miss the game. Meaning that it’s likely Boro will edge past Wolves. But it will still be a tight game.
Final score prediction: 2-1 Middlesbrough