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Which of the four remaining sides will put a foot in the final? Get Championship playoff tips

Ben Darvill 7 May 2019
Richard Keogh of Derby County (credit:Cal Sport Media/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Can West Brom return to the Hawthorns with an advantage following their trip to face Aston Villa, and will Derby finally get one over Leeds this season? Read on for our best bets for the first-leg matches in the Championship playoffs. 

Aston Villa vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30 BST)

What an end to the season it was for both Aston Villa and West Brom, as the two sides really put their foot to the pedal as they sought an automatic promotion spot to the Premier League next year. In the end, it was too little too late, but the teams should be proud of their respective runs of form. Villa have been supreme in recent weeks and they sit at the top of the form table, picking up 19 points from their last eight games, meaning they have only dropped five points in the final eight matches of the season. West Brom meanwhile have picked up 13 points in their last eight games as they have kept the likes of Villa and Derby County at arm’s length in the latter stages of the campaign. A loss for Villa against Norwich on the final day was not ideal along with their 1-1 draw with Leeds prior to this, but 10 wins in a row before this saw the side fly up the table in incredibly style, with the battle for the final playoff spot not something they had to become embroiled in. West Brom meanwhile lost their final match of the season in a 3-1 defeat to Derby, but they held onto fourth-place due to their exploits earlier in the season. 

This year, West Brom have had the better of this encounter, drawing 2-2 at the Hawthorns, before they defeated Villa 2-0 at Villa Park. The recent run of the pair hints at the fact that Villa will win this one, but the last two encounters between the outfits suggests otherwise. With all of this in mind, we think that home advantage in the opening game of this playoff will result in a Villa win, and at Evens, we think they offer good value for this. 

Derby vs Leeds (Saturday, 17:15 BST)

Derby came through in the battle for the final playoff spot with a strong performance against West Brom which both helped them into the final four and gave the side a massive mental boost ahead of the playoffs. 46 games ended in 20 wins, 14 draws and 12 losses, with the 74 points they picked up seeing the finish a single point above Middlesbrough in seventh. Leeds meanwhile were able to pick up nine more points than their next opponents, with the side doing well to make it to the playoffs, but they will still be hugely disappointed to have missed out on the automatic promotion spots after being so close to Norwich and Sheffield United in the latter-stages of the season. For Leeds, things have been massively disappointing of late, and they come into the playoffs in no kind of form. Three losses in four games along with a single draw is an awful return with their last win in the league coming in mid-April. Derby on the other hand have been much better in recent weeks, with their struggles during February put behind them via four wins and two draws in their final six games, including victory over the Baggies on the last day. Leeds meanwhile did at one point occupy one of the automatic-promotion spots, but now their form is more akin to that of a relegation-threatened side in their last four matches, and they limped into this fixture.

Leeds have been far better than their opponents this season in one-on-one games, beating the Rams 4-1 on the road back in August before they won 2-0 on their own patch in mid-January. However, Leeds have not been particularly good of late, and their away form has seen the side lose three of their last four away from home. Derby meanwhile have won their last four homes games in a row, while they have not lost on their own patch since February 20 and, with this in mind, we are backing the home side to pick up a massive win. 

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Which of the four remaining sides will put a foot in the final? Get Championship playoff tips

With only Leeds, West Brom, Aston Villa and Derby left in the competition, which side will take a huge step towards the playoff final?

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