Yes, it’s cliché to focus on the financial implications of this game, but when the rewards are so, well, rewarding, it’s hard to focus on anything else! By securing promotion to the Premier League the victors will guarantee around £170m into the club coffers over the next three years. For 2019/20 they’ll earn £95m, with parachute payments in 2020/21 and 2021/22 – should they be relegated after one season – totalling an estimated £75m across two seasons. Avoid first season relegation and the amount rises to a minimum of £300m. So, yes, this game is absolutely huge!
For the second successive season Aston Villa’s entire campaign comes down to a single, all or nothing, Wembley showdown. This is an unusual position for Villa to find themselves in, having spent 28 consecutive seasons in English football’s top flight prior to their Premier League relegation in 2016.
Following last year’s devastating loss to Fulham, Villa started the season poorly and manager Steve Bruce was sacked and replaced by Dean Smith. Under Smith, Villa finished the season in superb form – which included a club-record streak of 10 victories in a row – and secured a fifth-place finish. In the semi-finals, they came from behind to beat West Brom in the first leg at Villa Park 2-1, before losing the second leg 1-0. As there are no away goals in the play-offs, the match went to extra-time and then penalties, with Villa winning the shootout.
Unlike Villa, Derby have plenty of play-off experience. Unfortunately for Derby though, this experience mostly involves defeat. Aside from a play-off final victory against West Brom in 2007, Derby have lost finals in 1994 and 2014 (to ten-man QPR), and semi-finals in 1992, 2005, 2016 and 2018! This season though, things feel a little different.
Under Frank Lampard, the Rams have become a side for the big occasion and pressure situations. They defeated West Brom on the final day of the season to finish sixth and secure a play-off spot. Having lost the opening leg of the semi-final 1-0 at home to Leeds, they then conceded the opening goal in the second leg at Elland Road. With the chips down, they fought back for a stunning comeback and a 4-2 victory that booked their place in the final.
Aston Villa are favourites entering the final, with odds of 6/5 (2.20) for victory against Derby County. Derby aren’t complete underdogs though and find themselves priced at 9/4 (3.25) to win the game.
Aston Villa have been by far the better side when these teams have met this season, winning both games by an aggregate score of 7-0 and are therefore favourites to win. However, Derby have made a habit of coming up big when it matters this season and have taken games to penalty shootouts (with victories against West Brom, Southampton and Manchester United) on numerous occasions this season.
We can see Derby forcing a draw in 90 minutes at 9/4 (3.25) and the game eventually going to the lottery of penalties. At which point it’s anybody’s guess, as Villa progressed via shootout success in the semis.
*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of going to print.