Leeds United didn’t play on the resuming day of the Championship season, and it went really well for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Leeds did drop to 2nd place on goal difference behind West Bromwich Albion after their 0-0 draw with Birmingham City, but crucially they kept their seven point cushion over 3rd place Fulham after they lost 2-0 at home to Brentford FC.
Now Leeds must take advantage of these good results by getting a win at play-off chasing Cardiff City.
That is a wonderful pair of results for us, a win tomorrow will be just great .. #MOT come on Leeds big push now.— Gary H (@garyLeeds72) June 20, 2020
Leeds went in to the break with five wins in a row without conceding, but in truth recent form isn’t particularly relevant at this point. Leeds will be without Jean-Kevin Augustin and, more importantly, Pablo Hernandez for the game. This will probably see Tyler Roberts play in place of Hernandez. Although Bielsa could choose to bring in Ezgjan Alioski instead, and move Stuart Dallas into central midfield with Mateusz Klich rather than start the Wales international.
Cardiff currently sit in 11th place, but a win would take them into 7th only outside the play-off places on goal difference. They have improved since Neil Harris replaced
Colin W Neil Warnock, losing just five of his 25 matches at the helm.
Cardiff play fairly direct and will be a huge threat at set-pieces if they can provide good deliveries. Sean Morrison and Aden Flint are both really strong in the air at centre-back, and Callum Paterson is also a threat,although Curtis Nelson had been in the side ahead of Flint before the break.
Their main creative output will come from Lee Tomlin, who was influential in Cardiff’s comeback to draw 3-3 at Elland Road earlier in the season. They also have pace in wide areas in the form of Albert Adomah, Junior Hoilett, and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing who all have a lot of ability.
Most of the games this weekend have started slowly, with very low scoring 1st halves in particular. If Leeds have maintained their fitness in the way that we have been lead to believe Leeds could pick Cardiff off late. However, the allowance to make five substitutions from a nine-man bench does offset some of that.
Leeds have started both seasons under Bielsa really well, and Bielsa teams historically start well going back through the years. Hopefully this feels like a start to a season and Leeds can hit the ground running.
Personally I think if Leeds can’t start fast then we will be fine. Cardiff are not a bad side but they are not one of the better sides in the league either. However, after a three-month break it is very hard to know what will happen - I just know I will be terrified watching it.
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Klich, Roberts, Costa, Harrison; Bamford
Cardiff (4-2-3-1): Smithies; Sanderson, Nelson, Morrison, Bennett; Vaulks, Ralls; Mendez-Laing, Tomlin, Hoilett; Paterson
Leeds are the better side on paper, and in an empty stadium home advantage should be reduced, but at this stage I cannot comment on how the two sides will react to the circumstances.
I genuinely cannot remember what score I went for on the Podcast, but here I will say Leeds win 2-0.
What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.