Will Leeds United win the Championship Play-offs?
It’s that time of the season when teams strive to win the Championship Play-offs by getting to, and winning the play-off final, in what is billed as the ‘richest game in football’.
This year has witnessed plenty great teams vying for the four Play-off spots. We have seen Norwich City and Sheffield United both secure the automatic promotions, whilst Leeds United has managed to secure a place in the Play-offs. They aim to return to the Premier League for the first time since their relegation from the top flight in the 2003-04 season.
Things didn’t go to plan in the 2017-18 Championship. Leeds only managed to reach 13th in the table after an unsettled season which the club depart with two managers. This meant that they would spend a ninth consecutive season in the Championship. Following on from that Leeds signed their current manager Marcelo Bielsa on 15th June 2018 and their form has certainly improved since his appointment.
What effect has Marcelo Bielsa had
He may not have been someone you would have heard of before he joined Leeds United but l’m sure you will agree we certainly know him now. He seems never too far from controversy. We’ve had “Spygate” whilst Derby County were training and more recently the uncontested goal against Aston Villa in which Marcelo received widespread praise for his sportsmanship in letting Aston Villa score the uncontested goal. Aston Villa manager Dean Smith was quoted as saying “Full respect to Marcelo for doing that, I think sportsmanship has prevailed in the end”. What hasn’t been in question has been the transformation of Leeds under his leadership which has seen Leeds make a final push for automatic promotion after falling just short of the automatic promotion spots. They will now need to contest the Championship Play-offs where form can go out of the window and be more like betting on red or black at paypal casino.
Which teams have made the Play-Offs
We now know that the four teams that will contest the Play-Offs will be West Bromwich Albion, Derby County, Leeds United and Aston Villa. Leeds first hurdle will be overcoming Derby County who have had a very inconsistent season but have made a late charge to secure a Play-off place and means high profile manager Frank Lampard has managed to get Derby to the Play-offs at the first time of asking. One thing is for sure the 2018/19 Play-offs will be one of the hardest as all four teams have played in the Premier League. They all have a great history of playing in the top flight so their fans will be on the edge of their seats hoping to see their team make the finals at Wembley and ultimately make in back into the Premier league. It will be difficult to choose between them as you’ll see from the live betting odds.
Who will Leeds be relying on for the goals
Whilst Leeds haven’t had a prolific goal scorer this season, the goals have been contributed across the whole team. Kemar Roofe is their top scorer with 14 goals and Pablo Hernandez with 12 goals, but more importantly 12 assists, and also Mateusz Klich who has 10 goals and 8 assists to his name this season. One person they will have to do without for the first leg will be Patrick Bamford who will be serving his second game of his two match ban for deception of the referee in the heated game against Aston Villa. Bamford has contributed 10 goals but will be available for the second leg against Derby County on the return leg at Leeds United’s 37,000 seater stadium Elland Road.
What last season shows us
History may be on Leeds United side and the 2017-18 Championship season also saw Aston Villa and Derby County reaching the Play-offs finishing 4th and 6th in the table. Aston Villa made the Final at Wembley against Fulham the 3rd place finishers in the league (Leeds also finished 3rd in the Championship this season) but ultimately Aston Villa lost that game 1-0 and Fulham got promotion to the top flight. This has been a short lived success though as Fulham have now been relegated and will be back in the Championship next season.
Leeds United form against Play-Off rivals this season
Leeds first challenge will be to beat Derby County over two legs. In the two games they have played each other in the championship this season the first was a devastating win for Leeds 4-1 in August 2018 with Kemar Roofe opening his account for the season with a brace of goals and Patrick Bamford coming on late on to make his debut following his £10m summer signing from Middlesbrough. This was followed up by a 2-0 win in January for Leeds United in a match marred by the admission from boss Marcelo Bielsa that he had sent member of Leeds staff to watch Derby train. The Derby manager described his antics as “unethical” but it sent Leeds 5 points clear at the top of the Championship. Again Kemar Roofe scored which will give Leeds confidence they can pass the first test and progress to the final at Wembley.
If Leeds make the finals they could meet West Bromwich which could go either way, again like betting on red or black, as their first game went the way of West Bromwich Albion who thrashed Leeds 4-1 to stop Leeds returning to the top of the league back in November 2018. This was followed up by comprehensive display by Leeds with a 4-0 win to gain revenge for the result earlier in the season. This really could be the game of the Playoffs for the neutral to watch.
Finally we have Aston Villa and there certainly isn’t any love lost between these two following the controversial uncontested goal. The first game they played in December went the way of Leeds in a tightly contested game at Villa Park, which Leeds won 3-2. Then we have “That Game” in April 2019 that finished 1-1 after Marcelo Bielsa instructed his team to let Aston Villa score after Leeds played on after a tackle on Villas Jonathan Kodjia, which left him on the floor and lead to Klich scoring for Leeds. If these two meet in the Play-off final it’s sure to be a heated meeting as both would want revenge after the last game and the reward being promotion to the Premier League.
Across the season as a whole Leeds United can be confident that the have had some great results against their Play-off opponents and are capable of scoring plenty of goals against all of the teams.
When is the Championship final?
This year is geared to be an exciting competition and the final will be played at Wembley Stadium on Monday 27th May 2019.