Two clubs who will have aspirations of challenging for automatic promotion in the Championship this season are set to square off in their curtain-raising fixture of the 2022-23 season.
Having done exactly that with Sheffield United three years ago, Chris Wilder is in charge of a Boro side that still need to add to their squad – especially at the top end of the pitch – but have made some eye-catching acquisitions already.
Quiz: 20 statements about former Middlesbrough players – Are they true or false?
As for West Brom, they disappointed last season under Valerien Ismael firstly, and when he was replaced back in February by Bruce, he was unable to galvanise the squad, which ended up finishing in 10th position.
The likes of Jed Wallace and John Swift arriving at The Hawthorns though offers fresh hope that a revitalised attacking unit can push the Baggies back into the promotion picture, but they face a stiff opening test on Teesside.
According to Sky Sports pundit David Prutton though, the spoils are going to be shared at the Riverside Stadium between the two clubs with a 1-1 draw.
“Now then, this could be a really good game between two sides who will be keen to challenge for promotion again,” Prutton said in his Sky Sports predictions podcast.
“Middlesbrough missed out on a play-off spot by just five points after Chris Wilder’s salvage operation, while West Brom faltered in the first few months of last term to finish in a disappointing 10th – their lowest final position in over two decades.
“The pair have points to prove and I think this could be an entertaining score draw.”
If both teams were picking their ideal opening fixtures of the campaign, the chances are that neither of them would have selected this particular one.
Even away from home, West Brom could really take it to Middlesbrough if they come out all guns blazing, but because they’re on the road, Steve Bruce could opt to be more conservative.
We know how Boro will play due to Chris Wilder’s set-up, where he likes his centre-backs to overlap whenever they can and that means it will be attacking from the get-go.
There could be goals in this one, but with West Brom possessing on paper perhaps the greater attacking threat, I could see an away win being snuck.