Aston Villa will be taking on Middlesbrough Tuesday night for the second leg of the EFL Championship Playoffs Semi Final. The Claret and Blues already hold a 1-goal advantage over Tony Pulis’ side after beating them in the first leg at the Riverside Stadium.
Villa controlled the game throughout the 90 minutes despite managing only 38% possession. Pulis had no answer to the visitor’s offensive lineup as Robert Snodgrass came close to grabbing a second.
It was Mile Jedinak who got his side the goal with a well-struck header from Jack Grealish’s corner kick. Boro tried to launch a comeback late into the game with the help of Patrick Bamford but sadly to no avail. The Villa defence was far too well structured to let anything through and they might just be taking the similar game plan for the second leg.
Bruce certainly has strong hopes for the single goal advantage his team have taken in the opening tie. “We’re pleased. The cliches will come out and the Championship is riddled with strange things but it’s a little advantage and we’re pleased with the way we played in particular.”
It has been a highly rewarding season for Aston Villa but nothing can be said for sure as to what might happen on Tuesday night. Villa Park will be buzzing with the hues of two of the league’s best sides this season, with the fans expecting to see the home side go through to the playoff finals.
Here is how Aston Villa might line up on gameday.
Sam Johnstone should get the nod for the goalkeeper position ahead of Jed Steer and Mark Bunn. The 25-year-old was incredibly sharp in the first leg to keep hold of Villa’s lead and see them through.
The centre-back roles will have to be filled with James Chester and John Terry. Bruce was certainly boosted by the latter’s rested return.
Ahmed El Mohamady is the predicted starter on the right and Alan Hutton on the left. Neil Taylor’s hamstring injury will keep him out of this tie.
Glenn Whelan is set to start in his usual holding midfield role. Jack Grealish and Conor Hourihane are to partner up in front of the 34-year-old to create the Villa midfield.
Birkir Bjarnason is still recovering from his calf injury. The flanks might feature Robert Snodgrass on the right and Albert Adomah on the left.
Lewis Grabban seems to have cut out a starting role with his impressive form late into the campaign. He might start ahead of Scott Hogan, again.