Leeds United hosts Derby County in the second leg of English Championship play-offs semifinals. The match will be played on Wednesday, May 15th at Elland Road (Leeds)
The city of snobs will spend Wednesday in the usual financial and legal routine, but in the evening, the white collars will be replaced by the attributes of the Peacocks. The overcrowded Elland Road will hold the second semifinal leg with Derby, and the Peacocks have a high chance to play at Wembley: in the first match at Pride Park, Leeds gained an away victory over Lampard's Rams (0: 1). I involuntarily recall an interesting story when Bielsa’s people sneaked into Derby’s training on the eve of the meeting between the Peacocks and County in the second round of the Championship. Having hammered the Rams in August (1: 4), Bielsa’s men won the second match either (2: 0). The coaching workshop of England conservatively stated that it was not gentlemanly to do that. Alas, Marcelo is an Argentinean, and the Pope himself is a fan of him.
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El Loco didn’t need the divine intervention in the third victory over Rams, as well as spying, although Leeds failed at the finish of the league (0-1-3). The Peacocks lost a 3-point advantage over Sheffield United and gave the blades a direct ticket to the Premier League, and by the last round, Leeds had already lost 6 points to the competitor. It seemed that Leeds simply did not have enough physics for the demanding football of the Argentinean coach, but the team braced itself, having played a very high-quality away match. In the history of the playoffs, no team that lost the first match at home managed to comeback in the return game, so Lampard’s men will face with an impossible task, the more so the Rams lost at Elland Road in January with a 2: 0 score. Derby's finishing streak was the exact opposite of the Leeds’ (4-2-0), and County coped with a desperate attempt to jump into the last wagon of the departing train. However, the 6th line did not give the Rams any advantage in the first game of the playoffs. At Pride Park, we see the problem of the whole season again - the lack of game pattern. The Rams failed to do anything, and Lampard's strikers mostly threatened Casilla’s net from afar. Anyway, I counted two real shots, which Frank himself used once in Chelsea: low crosses were successfully intercepted by Leeds’ defenders, whereby the disqualified back Jansson did not play in the first semifinal.
The history seems to indicate that Leeds will emerge from this confrontation as a winner. The team that finished 3rd in the Championship has not lost home games since the 2009/10 season, when Nottingham Forest lost to Blackpool in the drama 3: 4. In winter, the Rams won Norwich away with the same score. Alas, Bielsa is unlikely to consent to the scenario of Farke. Obviously, the Argentinean will play with a 4-1-4-1 scheme again, where the Swedish defender will take his rightful place. Bamford who served a suspension just in time can reimburse the possible loss of Roofe at the helm, and the recovered Macedonian Alioski can refresh the left flank of defense.
I truly believe that Leeds will continue the winning streak of the teams that have earned the best playoff position (7-1-0), especially considering the home statistics of the Peacocks. It is the 5th best in the league. Excluding the last parity with the Villans (1:1) and the underestimation of Wigan (1:2), Bielsa’s men have lost at home only to the direct promoters and to Hull City since November. But there are no draws in this streak: the rest of matches ended with victories (10). Ninth place is a Derby’s away record. If we recall the match in Norwich, the Rams were lucky: at least the crossbar saved Carson then. From the Boxing Day and until the last round, the Lampard’s team won only 1 away game (1-5-5). The Rams have much more injured players than their rival, but among Frank's tangible losses - the injuries of veteran back Cole, midfielder Bryson and forward Waghorn. Alas, but the refusal of a 4-3-3 scheme, due to the loss of the latter, affected the result of the first match. Holmes’s tandem with Nugent was not impressive so the Rams’ coach will have to invent something in the attacking line. It is good that Frank has a talented Mount, but one playmaker may not be enough against the organization of the Peacocks again. Derby will have to play all-in, that is, to go forward. Leeds should have a chance to catch Derby on mistakes in order to win at Elland Road because the minimum advantage is unsteady. I predict the victory of Bielsa’s team.
Prediction for the match: Leeds to win