Championship play-off Final Preview

The most valuable game in world football takes place at Wembley on Monday as Derby take on Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final.

It is the second successive year that Villa have made the final and they are determined to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2016.

“It’s not a normal game, we know that, you can’t hide it,” said Villa boss Dean Smith

“The players have the chance to take an opportunity forward and become icons at Aston Villa.

“We’ve been playing must-win games for the past 15 or 16 games now and Monday will be no different,” Smith added.

Derby boss Frank Lampard has the chance to win promotion in his first season.

“However much the game is worth is not something that we can be in control of. I really want them to enjoy it. I played in finals and big games that I didn’t enjoy and moments passed me by and I don’t want that to happen to them,” he said.

“I want them to play with freedom. We can win this game or we could lose this game but as long as the players give everything I’ll be proud and the fans will be.”

See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Football Index is a stockmarket game where players, known as Traders, take a position on the “future success” of footballers with real money – CLICK HERE to play and start winning, and take advantage of your £20 cashback only with TheGamblingTimes.

Aston Villa 15:00 Derby County
Wembley Stadium

TEAM NEWS: Villa have no new injury or suspension concerns and could name the same XI that started the semi-final second leg at West Brom which saw them go through on penalties.

Derby will be without left-back Scott Malone after he was sent off in their dramatic 4-2 win at Leeds United in their play-off semi-final second leg.

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole is likely make his final appearance in professional football on Monday at the age of 38
That means veteran Ashley Cole is likely to come in for what could be his final game in professional football, while Jack Marriott is pushing for a start after coming off the bench to score twice at Elland Road.

Striker Martyn Waghorn (Achilles) could feature after missing both ties against Leeds.

KEY FACT: Aston Villa have won six of their last nine matches against Derby
MATCH ODDS: Aston Villa 21/20 Draw 23/10 Derby County 16/5
bet365 Pick: Aston Villa to win & under 2.5 goals @4/1
ANDY SAYS: Have to go with Villa in this one, I think they take the win…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: This will be close, could be just one goal in it but I think Villa just take it…1-0
Football Index – One to follow: Harry Wilson – Derby loan star should be looked at

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