The EFL Championship officially begins tomorrow with newly-relegated Watford taking on Middlesbrough at Vicarage Road.
With new boss Vladimir Ivic in charge, Watford will be hoping to bounce back quickly from their disastrous end to the 2019-20 campaign.
However, Middlesbrough also have a new boss – promotion expert Neil Warnock – and will be hoping to spring somewhat of an upset on Friday.
Watford vs Middlesbrough Head-to-Head
Watford and Middlesbrough haven’t actually played each other on that many occasions considering they’ve both been in and around the top flight for long periods.
Middlesbrough have beaten the Hornets on 14 occasions, with Watford picking up 16 wins. Eight games between the two have gone to a draw.
The last time the sides faced off was in April 2015. That game saw goals from Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo hand the Hornets a 2-0 win.
Middlesbrough have already kicked off their 2020-21 campaign with a win. They defeated Shrewsbury Town last week in the EFL Cup, while Watford have yet to play since their relegation from the Premier League.
Watford form guide: W-W-L-L-L
Middlesbrough form guide: L-W-L-W-W
Watford vs Middlesbrough Team News
Andre Gray, Ismaila Sarr and Troy Deeney will all be unavailable for this game, meaning Ivic will likely start new loan signing Glenn Murray up front. Defender Daryl Janmaat is also likely to be unavailable due to a knee injury.
Injured: Daryl Janmaat, Andre Gray, Ismaila Sarr, Troy Deeney
Neil Warnock should be able to call upon a full strength squad for this match, with none of his players reportedly unavailable.
Watford vs Middlesbrough Predicted XI
Watford predicted XI (4-3-2-1): Ben Foster, Jeremy Ngakia, Craig Cathcart, Christian Kabasele, Craig Dawson, Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Cleverley, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Ignacio Pussetto, Domingos Quina, Glenn Murray
Middlesbrough predicted XI (4-4-2): Dejan Stojanovic, Anfernee Dijksteel, Grant Hall, Dael Fry, Djed Spence, Marcus Browne, Lewis Wing, Jonny Howson, Marcus Tavernier, Ashley Fletcher, Britt Assombalonga
Watford vs Middlesbrough Prediction
Middlesbrough might’ve been in action more recently than Watford, but they didn’t really look great in their win over Shrewsbury, and Warnock has also lost a number of experienced players when their contracts came to an end.
Watford, meanwhile, will be hoping that new boss Ivic can get off to a winning start, and even without the likes of Sarr and Deeney, solid campaigners such as Murray, Chalobah and Cleverley should be enough to give them an opening day win here.
Prediction: Watford 2-0 MiddlesbroughPublished 10 Sep 2020, 23:06 IST