The play-off semi-final between Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town is nicely poised after a goalless draw in the first leg at the weekend. It was a typically resolute performance from the Owls as they looked to frustrate their hosts and they will be pleased to be coming back to Hillsborough on level terms. They are now unbeaten in eight matches against their Yorkshire rivals and will be full of confidence on Wednesday night. On the other hand, the Terriers need to deliver a much better performance as they have yet to score in the three meetings between the two clubs this season.
There have been speculation that Carlos Carvalhal will be leaving his manager’s post after the play-offs, regardless of whether he oversees a promotion or not. The timing of these rumours isn’t the best and could offer a distraction on Wednesday night when all focus should be on getting promoted. Wednesday’s game plan worked at the weekend, but they will need to offer more in attack during the second-leg, which should open spaces for Huddersfield. This should be a more entertaining fixture, but their recent success against the Terriers will mean that they start the match as favourites.
David Wagner’s team have hugely overachieved this season and it will go down as a success even if they fail to win the play-offs. However, this could be their best opportunity of reaching the Premier League for a long time and they will be desperate to come out on top at Hillsborough. They had the better of the first leg, with Aaron Mooy and Izzy Brown standing out. If they can improve in the final third on Wednesday, they will have a great chance of progressing.
The Owls won three of their last four home matches of the season, including an impressive showing against Newcastle, but their final day defeat to Fulham shows that they are far from unbeatable at Hillsborough. Reading also managed to win there in March.
Huddersfield lost three of their last five away matches of the season and their performances during that run were far from convincing. Their 4-0 loss to Bristol City at the end of March put an end to their automatic promotion hopes. Wagner will have to make sure his team are much better prepared for this match.
Carvalhal is likely to retain faith in the same eleven and hope that his attackers can impact the game more. Jordan Rhodes and Sam Winnall are both possible starters, but it is probable that the same pair of strikers that played on Sunday will start.
The only change that the away side are likely to make is Danny Ward for Joel Coleman. Although the number two did nothing wrong on Sunday, Ward has been the regular this season and deserves to start in the second leg.
Sam Hutchinson could be back from a knee injury to play a part in the second leg. However, Gary Hooper remains on the sidelines, which means that Steven Fletcher should retain his place.
Danny Ward will be back from suspension, which is a huge boost for Town as he has been very good for the most part of the season.
Match Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Huddersfield Town
This is going to be a more open game that the first leg and there will be chances for both teams to score. Wednesday have the edge as they have such a good record against Huddersfield in recent years. Their failure to score in any of the three fixtures this season is a worry for the visitors ahead of the game, but they need to ignore that statistic as they have players in attack that can cause a threat. The Owls have won their previous two play-off matches at Hillsborough without conceding a goal and considering their record in this fixture, that could be maintained on Wednesday night.