Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough have prepared for the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off semi-final first leg against Brentford with a trip to Marbella, and the manager says his side are geared up.Boro prepared for 2014/15 with a week at the Marbella Football Centre back in July and, after securing a fourth-placed finish, Karanka wanted to make “a return to where it all started” ahead of the Play-Offs.
“I thought after the game at Brighton last Saturday that we needed to change something because we started almost 10 months ago and it’s a very tough league,” the manager told the club's official website.
“I thought that we needed a change from the same training pitch, the same venue, the same people.
“Maybe we would have arrived at Brentford thinking it is a normal game, and it's not a normal game. For this reason, I thought it was good to go to Marbella. It was a very good trip, but let's see what happens in the game.
“I wanted to go back [to Marbella] again so they could recognise how difficult this season has been for everybody and how close we are now to promotion.”
Play-Off success would see Boro return to the Premier League for the first time since relegation in 2009 and they have a good record against their semi-final opponents.
They coasted past Brentford 4-0 in the north east in September before securing a 1-0 victory in West London in January.
And now they are ready for another clash with the Bees, after their successful trip to southern Spain.
“Every single exercise was to prepare us to win, and every exercise was thinking about Brentford and their style and the way that we played here in January [when Boro won 1-0].
“We trained really well, and we had a lot of meetings too. The players have been speaking about how important the game is and they are all very focused on it.”
As well as two wins against Brentford, Boro have also got the better of Play-Off rivals Norwich City twice, and Ipswich Town once this term. Their only defeat against any side in the Play-Offs came against the Tractor Boys in December, when Mick McCarthy's Town triumphed 2-0 at Portman Road.
Here's this season's head-to-head record between the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off contenders:
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