Saturday lunchtime, for many represents a final chance to see their team perform this season in a game which may not have much significance and could even feel like a friendly atmosphere, but not at the Riverside.
Billed as the play-off before the play-offs is a match that sees Middlesbrough entertain Brighton in the tensest finale in years to see who is promoted to the premier league with a reported £200m to the victor. If Middlesbrough avoid defeat they will be promoted whereas a Brighton win will see them go up at the expense of Middlesbrough. Here is a look at the factors which may give Middlesbrough the edge in what promises to be an explosive final day on Teesside.
- Defensive record
Middlesbrough have the meanest defence in the Championship, in fact they have conceded the fewest goals in all four divisions.
*Conceded 0.74 goals per game, the fewest in all four English leagues.
If Boro were to record a clean sheet on Saturday it would make it exactly 50% of clean sheets this season.
*Boro have 22 clean sheets from 45 games.
If Boro score then the chances are they won’t be beaten.
*Last time Boro conceded more than one goal at the Riverside was 23rd August 2014 v Sheff Wed.
Statistically Boro have one of the best defences in Europe, their run of 9 clean sheets was 2nd best in Europe. Only Juventus bettered it.
*Clean sheet rate of 47.3% is the 10th best in Europe.
If Boro mange to keep a clean sheet on Saturday it will be a new club record for amount of goals conceded at home in a season (7), they achieved the same number in 1901/02 but that was with 17 home games as opposed to 23 this season.
Karanka has to take a lot of credit for their formidable defence, under him they have conceded only 91 goals in 122 games.