Middlesbrough are still waiting to see if two of their key men are able to return from injury. Braithwaite should, but there is more concern over Ayala. Fry impressed in defence when slotting in on Saturday anyway. Assombalonga may be rested to the bench. Gestede in line to play again after netting the winner versus Sheffield United. Fabio and Baker are backed to come into the side to add quality. Only at least a two-goal margin of victory would see Middlesbrough defeat the -1 handicap. They themselves will expect to do so, considering Hull beat Burton 4-1 at the weekend. Middlesbrough impressed at times against Sheff Utd, and a lesser side would’ve caved in, of which Burton are. Scoring early isn’t desperately needed, but doing so eases any nerves, allowing them to play confidently. Surprisingly there have not been many goals in Middlesbrough’s opening two games. A leaky Burton defence presents them with a chance to score goals, and Garry Monk will want them to attack, threatening the over 2.5 goal line. Conceding first would mean them facing a stubborn defence, and it may be difficult for them to break down, as Sheff Utd gave them issues at the weekend when winning only 1-0.
Burton Albion have lost Irvine, their top scorer from last season, through suspension and experienced defender Warnock is now injured too. A formation change is quite likely, which is no surprise for this versatile side. Flanagan and Varney are set to come in, along with Mousinho and Dyer, to provide more experience for this extremely tough game against big-spending Middlesbrough. Burton’s first away game of the season saw them lose 4-1 at Hull. A red card certainly didn’t help their cause, but tiredness could be an issue for them. They’ve been handed the +1 handicap, but even expecting them to win, draw or not lose by more than one appears risky considering the key men they have unavailable for what is already a difficult away game. If the over 2.5 goal line is to be broken, then it is likely to come from Middlesbrough alone. If Burton are to collect a successful result, it is likely to come via a narrow, low-scoring affair, whereby they frustrate their opponents. Burton are without some key players, meaning the balance of their side may be disrupted. Conceding first means they’ll have to open up, leaving more spaces.
Verdict & Prediction
Middlesbrough got their season up and running with a home triumph over Sheffield United. Their first half performance in that game is the standard Garry Monk wants every game, so the team at least know what they’re capable of. Only a win over Burton Albion at home is acceptable in their eyes. We recommend a bet on Middlesbrough.
Prediction: Middlesbrough -1.00 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.75 Pinnacle (1.81 when sent to premium subscribers)