sport news Aston Villa vs Derby - Championship play-off finalists compared

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It is the £170million game. The Championship play-off final has the potential to fulfill dreams but also break hearts after a long and exhausting campaign.

This year, Aston Villa and Derby County will meet at Wembley Stadium on May 27 for the right to return to the Premier League next season and all the riches that come with it.

We compare the two clubs in anticipation of the big match next weekend.

Fulham won the Championship play-offs last year - but will it be Aston Villa or Derby this time?

Fulham won the Championship play-offs last year - but will it be Aston Villa or Derby this time?

ROUTE TO THE FINAL

Aston Villa: Villa ended up fifth in the final league table, having propelled themselves into the top six with a club record run of 10 consecutive league victories during March and April.

That enabled them to enter the play-offs with plenty of momentum but they had to come from behind to beat local rivals West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final.

Dwight Gayle capitalised on a defensive error to hand the Baggies the lead, but Conor Hourihane's eye-catching 25-yard strike and Tammy Abraham's penalty edged Villa in front.

Jack Grealish leads the celebrations after Aston Villa's shoot-out win over West Bromwich

Jack Grealish leads the celebrations after Aston Villa's shoot-out win over West Bromwich

Party time for the Villa players as they progressed to a second successive play-off final

Party time for the Villa players as they progressed to a second successive play-off final

Watching brief 

CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF FINAL

ASTON VILLA vs DERBY COUNTY

Monday May 27, 3pm at Wembley

Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football 

That advantage was cancelled out by Craig Dawson's header at The Hawthorns on Tuesday night but the 80th-minute sending off of Albion captain Chris Brunt shifted the balance of the game.

Albion saw out extra time a man light but Villa won 4-3 on penalties after goalkeeper Jed Steer made crucial saves from Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi to book a Wembley final.

Derby County: It was a little touch and go as to whether Derby would get into the play-off places but Frank Lampard's team went their final six matches unbeaten, winning four, to finish just ahead of Middlesbrough.

But their ambition of returning to the Premier League for the first time since the 2007-08 season looked to have been dashed when Kemar Roofe's goal handed Leeds United the advantage following Saturday's first leg at Pride Park.

Frank Lampard leads the celebrations as Derby defeated Leeds to reach the play-off final

Frank Lampard leads the celebrations as Derby defeated Leeds to reach the play-off final

It was a memorable night at Elland Road as Derby defeated Leeds 4-2 in an epic encounter

It was a memorable night at Elland Road as Derby defeated Leeds 4-2 in an epic encounter

Cue an extraordinary night at Elland Road on Wednesday. Stuart Dallas extended Leeds' aggregate lead before Jack Marriott came off the bench to offer Derby hope just before half-time.

They then levelled the aggregate scores at 2-2 through Mason Mount and Harry Wilson's penalty put them ahead for the first time in the tie.

Back came Leeds with Dallas scoring again before a turning point when Gaetano Berardi was sent off for a poor tackle with 12 minutes to play.

And five minutes from time, Marriott was Derby's hero with the winner, sparking jubilant touchline celebrations from Lampard and his staff.

HEAD-TO-HEAD THIS SEASON

While we all know that form goes out of the window when it comes to the play-offs, Villa have every reason to be confident when it comes to this season's meetings with Derby. They won both... with an aggregate score of 7-0!

Dean Smith was a month into the job at Villa Park when they won 3-0 at Pride Park in November. Three late goals by John McGinn, Abraham and Hourihane secured an ultimately emphatic win that lifted Villa to 11th place.

The return in Birmingham at the start of March was even more one-sided. Villa, seeking to restart their play-off bid, scored four times before half-time in an easy win.

Hourihane scored twice and Jack Grealish produced a stunning volley on his return from injury, with Abraham also on target.

John McGinn celebrates with Tammy Abraham after scoring for Villa in their 3-0 win at Derby

John McGinn celebrates with Tammy Abraham after scoring for Villa in their 3-0 win at Derby

Jack Grealish celebrates his goal as Aston Villa thrashed Derby 4-0 back in early March

Jack Grealish celebrates his goal as Aston Villa thrashed Derby 4-0 back in early March

MANAGERIAL IMPACT

Aston Villa: Returning Villa to the Premier League after three seasons away is a very personal mission for Smith, a lifelong fan of the club whose father worked as a steward at Villa Park for years.

Given the personal pressure as a result, Smith admitted he thought long and hard about whether to leave Brentford for Villa when Steve Bruce was sacked amid poor form in early October.

With John Terry as his

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