Wembley is just 90 minutes away for Millwall – give or take a possible extra-time and penalty shoot-out -with Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion standing in the way of another FA Cup semi-final appearance.
Ahead of the Lions’ Sunday afternoon encounter, we quiz Brian Owen of the Brighton Argus about what we can expect to happen at the Den.
Will Brighton players cope with the famously intimidating Millwall atmosphere?
Last week’s match at Crystal Palace was the best preparation Albion could have had.
Millwall fans may not thank me for saying it, but in many ways, the atmosphere will not be that dissimilar. It does get intense and hostile at the Den, we know that, but that was the case at Palace because of the rivalry between the clubs.
There was a fervent atmosphere, very noisy and with an unpleasant undercurrent. It will be different from most Premier League matches, for sure, because usually Brighton are not a big game for the home team. But many of the players are familiar with the Den and the stands being tight to the pitch, and will know what to expect.
What sort of team will Chris Hughton (above) put out – will he still have an eye on Premier League survival or throw the kitchen sink at it?
It’s hard to know for sure. Albion played at Manchester United at the same stage last season and it was also before an international break, like this year.
But although it was a bit stronger than the usual cup team, it wasn’t a full team that was put out.
As Brighton are only five points above the relegation zone, it could be the same again, but this is a much better chance for them.
Being drawn to play at United late on a Saturday night kind of killed it. This time, it might be a different.
But it’s only the fourth time they’ve ever reached the quarter-finals, so it’s a great opportunity.
Who will be the key players for Brighton?
The strong central defence and the experience of Glenn Murray could be really important, as well as the service provided by the wingers.
Murray continues to confound expectations and is really good at what he does. There is little doubt that Crystal Palace regret letting him go and it was almost inevitable that he would score against them last week.
He looks fitter than ever and of course he’s very wily, and good at hold-up play. He has missed a few sitters this season but he knows where the goal is.
Is there anyone in Millwall side Brighton will be wary of?
There are no obvious stars, but I think they will keep a watchful eye out for , if he plays.
Wallace used to play for Whitehawk, just down the road from Brighton, so they’ll be aware of him. It may be more about making sure they get their own game right.
Is it a surprise that former Brighton Czech Republic left winger Jiri Skalak has not featured more for Millwall this season?
It is really. It is not so much a surprise that he has not been one of the main men, but it that he has not featured much or had a few good moments for the Lions. He did okay when he first played for the Seagulls in the 2015-16 season. He did nothing much in the promotion season, but I think we expected him to be good at putting in crosses and tracking back for the Lions.
Are we likely to see Brighton on front foot or playing on the break?
They tend not to be cavalier. The tie at West Brom was an exception, because it was one where both teams just seemed to want to get it over with. At Bournemouth, Brighton sat back and hit them on the counter-attack and they may again view this as their best way of approaching the game.
Are set pieces a worry – considering it was a problem for Everton in the fourth round?
It could be famous last words, but I think Brighton are far better equipped to deal with set pieces than Everton. They are more robust and have players like Dan Burn, Shane Duffy and Murray, so I’d expect them to make it more difficult for Millwall to get cheap goals.
What is the mood of the Brighton fans going into this tie? Does it feel like 1983 again (when the Seagulls reached the FA Cup final for the one and only time in their history)?
For some of the older fans, there has been talk of repeating the run to the final in 1983, but that might be because of the uncomfortable parallels with that season, when getting to Wembley coincided with relegation.
It still feels like a long-shot getting to the final because of the teams left in it, but when Brighton were drawn with Derby in the fifth round, it finally felt as if this was a competition in its own right they might go for, rather than one to use just to rotate squad players.
What is the likely starting line-up?
Lewis Dunk has not featured in the cup, so it may well be that Hughton goes for Burn and Duffy in central defence again, flanked by Bruno, Gaetan Bong or Bernardo. David Button has kept goal in the FA Cup.
The midfield should feature Dale Stephens, Davy Propper and Beram Kayal. They will probably post two wide men alongside Murray – in the frame for those positions are Anthony Knockaert, Solly March, Jose Izquierdo and Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Romanian striker Florin Andone could start, rather than Murray. He got injured in the warm-up at Palace but has not been ruled out of making a recovery from a leg muscle strain.
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