A quick post today as I can’t guarantee I’ll be around tomorrow. The game is on Sky Sports 1, kick off 5:15pm.
How the second leg pans out depends on the approaches that Steve McClaren and Oscar Garcia want to take under the circumstances. As it stands, Brighton need to win 2-0 to qualify for the final without extra time and need a 1-0 win to force extra time.
Derby have won eight of their last ten home games by an average of 3.5 goals (which is a better strike rate than for the rest of the season -see below) and have only lost once at home (Millwall) since NewYear’s Day. Although they beat Brighton and QPR at the iPro Stadium this season, they lost all three home games against Leicester, Burnley and Wigan without scoring; I know it sounds obvious, but if you can stop Derby scoring you can get a positive result.
Brighton have won four of their last ten aways and only lost twice in that sequence. On paper a 4-1 win at Leicester was their best result of the season, but that was after the Champions had won promotion and I’m not sure that result is a reliable indicator of how good the Seagulls actually are. If there’s one thing Oscar should be worried about, the defence has only kept one away clean sheet in the last five and they need to do that tomorrow.
Head to head: Derby have only lost two of their last ten home games against Brighton in the league and kept clean sheets in half of those games.
Brighton need to score and to stop Derby scoring to stand any chance of reaching the playoff final. The problem for the Seagulls is that Derby and Leicester both averaged exactly two goals per home game in 2013/14; fourteen teams – including Yeovil and Birmingham – scored more away goals than Brighton did this season. If the Rams score first, this semi final is over.
Will Hughes opened the scoring for Derby and the Rams won 4-1.