The Verdict: Who will win Tuesday’s playoff semi-final?

Aston Villa host Middlesbrough in the second leg of their Championship playoff semi-final on Tuesday night, knowing they’re in the driving seat after clinching an away win at the Riverside Stadium last Saturday. But will the Villans get over the line and book themselves a place at Wembley, or can Boro reverse the one-goal deficit in front of an away crowd? We asked Football FanCast’s expert writers who they think will progress to the second tier playoff final. Here’s their predictions…

Ben Goodwin – Aston Villa

“Middlesbrough huffed and puffed at the Riverside on Saturday but the experience in Villa’s defence shone through. While the early Jedinak goal meant Steve Bruce’s side sat back to soak up pressure, they’ll surely be looking to take the initiative at home, and a sold out Villa Park will certainly play its part. Jack Grealish looked extremely dangerous in the first leg, and if the hosts can find just one goal it should be enough to progress.”

John McGinley – Aston Villa

“Villa showed at the weekend they could effectively deal with most of the attacking threat Middlesbrough have to offer and in the experienced Alan Hutton they have someone who has, perhaps surprisingly, proven he can shut down the lively Adama Traore. Bruce knows how to put out a side to get a result and the experience that runs through the spine of Villa’s team will be enough for them to grind it out if it comes to that. I actually fancy the home side to score one or two more and make it comfortable, setting up a mouth-watering clash at Wembley with Fulham.”

Mile Jedinak celebrates scoring with Steve Bruce

Sam Preston – Middlesbrough

“Boro played well enough to secure at least a draw in the home leg and all they need is one goal here to make Villa Park nervous. Britt Assombalonga missed chances at the Riverside and if he can evade John Terry again, it could haul Boro back into contention. If Boro do score, the onus will be on Villa to attack – their fans will demand it – and that could leave space behind for Adama Traore to break into. No team has ever overturned a first leg home defeat to progress into the Championship play-off final but records are made to be broken.”

Danielle Joynson – Aston Villa

“Bruce’s side already have the edge with regards to the scoreline, but having the backing of a sold-out Villa Park will provide an extra boost. The Midlands outfit have lost just once in their last 10 home fixtures, while Middlesbrough have picked up only two victories in their last nine matches on the road. After last season’s disappointment of finishing 13th in the Championship, Villa’s determination to achieve promotion has been clear. For the majority of the campaign, they have been composed and organised. They certainly seem better equipped to return to the top flight.”