Master beats apprentice again
It’s Leeds with the upper hand at the half-way point having edged a tight and tetchy first leg and with the bonus of home advantage to come. Will The Whites move one step closer to returning to the top-flight, or, can Derby produce one final twist in this epic duel?
Master vs. Apprentice
You have to feel Derby’s best chance of getting to Wembley rested on making the most of home advantage and turning up at Elland Road with a lead. At least that’s how I saw the tie.
Regardless of having penalty award controversially chalked off, The Rams were the inferior side for the majority of the game on Saturday evening and, having failed to muster a single shot on target, can have few complaints with the end result.
Frank Lampard’s team were kept at bay by Bielsa’s Leeds, who played in second gear but were rarely flustered and, crucially, potent in front of goal when the opportunity arose.
Once again, and for the third time this season, it was a case of the master getting the better of the apprentice.
Key personnel and firepower sidelined
If the first match was short on genuine goal mouth action there’s every chance the second leg could follow suit, especially with both missing their primary goal threats.
Martyn Waghorn is again expected to miss out through injury, while Leeds’ matchwinner Kemar Roofe won’t play after being ruled out with a calf strain by Bielsa.
For Derby in particular, you have to question where the goals are going to come from if indeed Waghorn doesn’t feature. Harry Wilson and Mason Mount will be looked towards for a moment of magic but without a focal point from which to build attacks, Derby look set to lack the punch needed to pierce a solid Leeds defence once again.
History favours The Leeds
As well as having their noses ahead in the tie, you could say Leeds have history on their side too given none of the previous 17 teams to lose the first leg at this level have gone on to overturn a deficit.
Also in favour of the hosts is the fact the third place team haven’t been beaten at home in the play-offs in almost ten years, not since Blackpool edged out Nottingham Forest in 2009/10.
Leeds vs. Derby betting tip
Never in their history have Leeds beaten a team four times in one single season but everything points to that scenario transpiring on Wednesday night. Even without Roofe, there’s still enough quality in the ranks for Leeds who I’m backing to win with under 3.5 goals in the match.