Boro will show few nerves
If this season is anything to go by, Middlesbrough have Brentford’s number. The Teesiders have won all three of their meetings so far – 4-0 at the Riverside Stadium, 0-1 and last week’s 1-2 at Griffin Park – and so Aitor Karanka’s men will back themselves to get the result they need tonight. Anything can happen on the night but the previous form should give the side some confidence and ease potential nerves in the face of Brentford’s imminent chasing of their aggregate deficit.
All guns blazing from The Bees
Brentford have given themselves a real challenge tonight by losing in the first leg and will have to go at Middlesbrough this evening. That style of play won’t necessarily be alien to Brentford, who scored 78 goals in the league season, but they leave themselves vulnerable at the back – nobody conceded more in the Championship’s top eight – and that will play right into the hosts’ hands. The quick feet of Albert Adomah and Lee Tomlin will be effective on the break and Brentford will give them more than a few opportunities to hit them with counter attacks.
Bamford watched keenly by scouts
Middlesbrough loanee Patrick Bamford is set to sign a new contract with parent club Chelsea at the end of the season, but the young striker will likely be sent out on loan again next season. Given his performances for Derby and Boro in the Championship, Bamford will have earned time in the Premier League for the next campaign. Whether that will be with Middlesbrough remains to be seen, so expect plenty of top flight clubs to watch the player tonight to see how he gets on and whether he is worthy of making a loan bid for ahead of the next campaign. Bamford is playing with a slight injury but if he helps to get Boro to Wembley he’d argue it is worthwhile.
Safer hands from Dimi
Hesitancy from Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos gifted Andre Gray and Brentford a way back into the game in the first leg, and he would have been the most relieved man in Griffin Park when Fernando Amorebieta scored a late winner for the visitors. While he did pull off a few saves too, the goalkeeper remains being at the risk of some blame should Boro find a way of losing on aggregate tonight, so expect an assured and perhaps even over-compensating performance between the sticks from the experienced Greek.
Heartbreaking farewell for Warburton
Unless his Brentford side get a surprise result and make it through to the play-off final, tonight will be Mark Warburton’s last game as manager of The Bees. His first job in management has been a very successful one, taking Brentford from League One to within two games of Premier League football in less than two years, but disagreements with the owner’s player recruitment policy means he will be off in the summer regardless of how the club fares in the play-offs. After the first leg home defeat, there’s a big chance that tonight’s match will be Warburton’s last with Brentford, and should that be the case expect an emotional farewell at full-time from both he and the fans, who have backed him if not the club’s owners.