Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Middlesbrough at Molineux, with both sides looking to pick up an opening victory to get their promotion challenge off to a great start.
English Championship Saturday 5th August – 15:00 UK Time
Best Odd of: 20/1 at Sky Bet
Best Odd of: 8/1 at Sky Bet
Best Odd of: 1/10 at Sky Bet
Wolves have finished 7th, 14th, and 15th in the three seasons since returning to the Championship but are fancied by many as serious promotion contenders this season. In fact, they would finish fifth if the placings were based on betting odds for the title.
Former Valencia and Porto manager Nuno Espirito Santo is the new manager and he’s been tasked with challenging for promotion.
Pre-season has been a bit hit-and-miss, with two wins followed by two defeats and then another two victories. Their final friendly was a 1-0 win over 2015/16 Premier League champions Leicester City.
They have strengthened considerably in the summer, bringing in several talented players including 20-year-old Portugal international Ruben Neves for a club record fee.
Wolves have the chance to show they’re genuine contenders against a team who were playing Premier League football just a few months ago.
Middlesbrough struggled in the top flight last season, scoring just 27 goals and winning just five matches as they finished second from bottom.
Garry Monk has left Leeds United to take the reins at Boro, and they are fancied to bounce straight back up to the Premier League.
They have spent a lot of money to ensure they are well equipped for a title challenge, with over £40 million forked out in the transfer market.
Among the most expensive players brough in are Britt Assombalonga, who cost £15.8m from Nottingham Forest, Martin Braithwaite was £9m from Toulouse, and goalkeeper Darren Randolph cost £5m form West Ham United
These are transfer fees paid out by a team fully expecting to be a Premier League team again come next season.
Head to Head
These teams have met 68 times since they first played against each other in 1902. Middlesbrough have a clear advantage, having won 36 of those. Wolves have picked up 18 victories, and 14 have been draws.
The most recent meeting was in March 2016, with Middlesbrough winning 2-1 to make it four consecutive wins over Wolves.
In the last ten, Boro have won seven and Wolves have three victories. There has only been one draw between these teams in the last sixteen meetings.
Both teams have scored in four of the last six, and there has been a total of 20 goals in those six matches.
Betting Odds and Predictions
This is another match expected to be close, which is reflected in the betting odds.
Sky Bet have Wolves as slight favourites, priced at 6/4, whilst Middlesbrough are 15/8. The draw is priced at 9/4.
With not much to choose between the sides, this may be a match where the ‘Double Chance’ market comes into play.
Wolves or Draw is priced at 2/5, Middlesbrough or Draw is 1/2, and Wolves or Middlesbrough is 1/3. With there being only one draw in sixteen meetings, we would opt for the Wolves or Boro to win option.
Recent meetings have seen an average of over three goals per game, so Over 2.5 Goals here looks a good bet. Surprisingly, given the recent results between the two, it’s priced at 6/5 for Over 2.5 Goals. This sounds extremely good value to us.
Both Teams to Score is also good value, at 10/11.
Britt Assombalonga netted 14 goals for a poor Nottingham Forest side last season, so expect his name to be on the scoresheet regularly this season. We think he will be key to Boro’s promotion push, and it’s 2/1 for him to score anytime in the season opener.
Top Betting Tip
Our top betting tip for this match is Wolves or Middlesbrough to win in the ‘Double Chance’ market, which is priced at 1/3 with Sky Bet.