After the 3-0 defeat to Bursaspor earlier in the week, Leeds United started with a strong looking team that was probably only missing captain Liam Bridcutt and fan favourite Ronaldo Viera from their best possible XI.
Borussia Mönchengladbach fielded a weakened side, as only half of the squad played against Leeds, with the other half facing up against OGC Nice later in the day. The team to face Leeds included a number of recognisable names however, most notably Patrick Herrmann and striker Kwame Yeboah, whose surname is adored by every Leeds fan in the world but unfortunately was not donning the famous white shirt today.
What sounded like a solid first-half performance from Leeds was somewhat ruined by the fact that no-one could watch it. Despite Leeds advertising that the game would be streamed on LUTV for days now, the site somehow refused to cope with the online traffic and failed to load for most supporters. The Leeds twitter account responded to a wave of fan backlash by blaming the Austrian broadcasters for the embarrassingly unsuccessful stream.
The broadcaster in Austria providing LUTV with today's feed is experiencing technical issues. We apologise for this inconvenience.— Leeds United (@LUFC) July 20, 2017
After hitting the refresh button every 15 seconds for at least 25 minutes, I conceded defeat and resigned myself to following the action through LUFC’s and Gladbach’s Twitter updates; the suspect German to English online translation providing some light entertainment in what proved to be a frustrating afternoon for hopeful viewers.
Despite this, it seems like Leeds played extremely well in the first half. Luke Ayling gave us the lead in the 2nd minute as a nice one-two with Kemar Roofe on the edge of the box set up the chance for a tidy left-footed finish. The interchangeable attacking three of Hernandez, Roofe and new signing Alioski were apparently dangerous as they delivered many crosses from wide which Chris Wood just couldn’t execute. Youngster Kalvin Phillips also hit the post and United had plentiful chances from corners, however the half-time whistle sounded at 1-0 to Leeds.
After scrambling around on Twitter during half time, a working link to the match was finally found. Hallelujah.
Vurnon Anita and Matthew Pennington, who made his Leeds United debut, came on for Jansson and Berardi at half time but soon after, Borussia Mönchengladbach levelled the game in the 47th minute with an unstoppable free kick from Patrick Herrmann.
Leeds came closest to scoring next, as Alioski won the ball back on the left wing and fired a low cross to Hernandez who forced a save from the Gladbach keeper before Roofe hit the bar with the rebound.
Impressively, Leeds continued their first-half tempo and dominance and for much of the first 60 minutes there was seemingly little difference between the Champions League and the Championship. The performance showed how Thomas Christiansen has already injected a good amount of energy into the squad, with the high press they adopted for some periods of the game giving Gladbach a few awkward moments.
A host of subs on the 63rd minute saw Bridcutt, Viera, Saiz, Dallas, Sacko and Ekuban all make appearances, yet none of them had enough time to make any sizeable impact on the game. As expected after six substitutes, Leeds lost a fair bit of shape and Gladbach came back into the game with some missed opportunities. From here, the match fizzled out and ended with a respectable 1-1 score-line for Leeds.
Yes, it was only a preseason friendly, but a commanding performance against a team of Gladbach’s quality is a great confidence booster ahead of the new season. Maybe, just maybe we can allow ourselves to dream that this exciting, new-look Leeds side is starting to gel into strong promotion candidates… only time will tell.