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John Terry v Aleksandar Mitrovic: The Key Battle in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final
Last Updated: 26/05/18 4:57pm
The 2018 Sky Bet Championship play-off final is set to produce an intriguing encounter between serial Wembley winner John Terry and Fulham's in-form Serb Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The decorated 37-year-old defender has made 836 appearances for club and country and won 15 major trophies, lifting five major Cups at Wembley as Chelsea captain. Terry will need to call upon all his experience to shut out Mitrovic who was named Sky Bet Championship Player of the month for March and April.
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Mitrovic's arrival, on loan from Newcastle, has had a huge impact on Fulham this season, coinciding with their red-hot end-of-season form. The 23-year-old scored in 10 of Fulham's final 14 Championship games this season (12 goals) with the Whites winning eight and drawing two of those 10 games that he netted in. Nine of his 12 goals coming against top-half sides in the division.
Only Mohamed Salah has scored more English League goals than Mitrovic since his Fulham debut on February 3.
Mitrovic in fact had the best minutes-per-goal ratio of any Championship player to play at least 900 minutes this season.
Minutes per goal in Championship (played 900+ mins)
|Player||Mins per goal||Total|
His major strength has been his ability to continually find opportunities to shoot better than any other player in the division. He also finished the season with 68 shots, almost the same return as leading scorers Grabban (74) and Vydra (74) managed, despite Mitrovic playing half as much in the Championship.
Despite the Serb remaining unbeaten in five career appearances against Aston Villa, he has yet to score a goal against them. His first Fulham start came in the 2-0 home League win against Terry's Villa on February 17. His only other meeting against Terry came in Chelsea's 5-1 Premier League home win against Newcastle in February 2016, Terry was subbed off on 38 minutes with a hamstring injury sustained during an aerial tussle with Mitrovic.
Terry has an impressive record when he's faced Fulham, losing only two of his 25 games played against them. He has also scored four goals against the Cottagers, only scoring more goals against Arsenal in his career (five). He can boast three goals in his last five games v Fulham and his only Villa goal came in their 2-1 Championship win against Fulham at Villa Park last October.
Mitrovic is of course looking for back-to-back promotions into the Premier League after helping Newcastle win the Championship title last season. Whilst this will be Mitrovic's first taste of Wembley, it will be Terry's 31st senior appearance at the national stadium for club and country.
Terry has won 23 and lost only four of his 30 games at Wembley for Chelsea and England, scoring four times. His last major cup final appearance at Wembley was when he scored and was named man of the match in Chelsea's 2-0 League Cup final win against Tottenham in 2015. In fact, Terry boasts an enviable record at Wembley in major cup competitions - winning eight of his nine games played there with Chelsea, winning his last seven.
Aston Villa will be making their fifth Wembley appearance in eight years with their last visit ending in a 4-0 FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal in 2015. Whilst Fulham will be making only their second Wembley appearance in their 139-year history and their first visit for 43 years since their 1975 FA Cup final defeat against West Ham.
Terry will be looking to keep his near-perfect Wembley record intact against the red-hot striker on Saturday.
Don't miss the Sky Bet Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 4pm