The Championship play-offs are incredibly tense, as you can probably imagine, given that the prize on offer is a place in the Premier League. The four teams involved have already played at least 46 competitive games throughout the course of their respective seasons, and as you can imagine, the final three (or two) require that extra bit of effort as they attempt to drag themselves over the finish line.
The prize at the end of the rainbow is of course top flight football, but in the end, only one side can come out on top. The first legs of the two semi-finals took place over the weekend and they certainly didn’t disappoint, with Aston Villa and Leeds United taking control of their respective ties ahead of the second legs.
Questions, questions, questions
As reported by Birmingham Live, though, there are some mixed opinions regarding the validity of Aston Villa’s win. The belief is that they received a fairly sizeable helping hand from the referee along the way, and you won’t find too many West Brom fans who would disagree with that sentiment. A lot of Villa fans may even say the same, too, especially given Dwight Gayle’s sending off for two yellow cards.
On the other hand you’ve got Derby who, as reported by BBC, were unable to take advantage of being at home against Leeds United in their first leg. It was only a narrow defeat but they all count, and their loss was ironically also considered to be a little bit controversial.
Ahead of the second legs, though, the Rams and the Baggies need to put all of that to the back of their minds. It isn’t going to do anyone any good to dwell on the past, especially when you consider how good Villa and Leeds have been throughout the course of the season. They aren’t going to take their foot off of the gas, here.
Derby will be away from home in the second leg, and to be blunt, they’re just going to have to go for it. They can’t afford to leave anything out there on the pitch because if they do, they’re going to regret it. Frank Lampard has done a solid job with this squad of players, but if they go out without putting up much of a fight, they’ll regret it.
On the other hand West Brom will be at home for their tie against Villa, which should (hopefully for them) give them a bit of an advantage. The Hawthorns crowd are going to be loud and lively from the first minute until the very last, and the Baggies really have nothing to lose here. They were considered to be the underdogs coming into the tie, they’ve already lost Gayle due to suspension, and they’re behind from the first leg. As long as they put in an admirable performance a defeat won’t seem all that bad, but of course, the fact that it’ll be to their rivals will still ensure a painful few months (and days of hoping that Leeds/Derby win the final).