Frank Lampard speaks! “It was an even match of the weekend. We’re one goal dow. The players have to give everything on the pitch. The players have to fight. We want to start well. Because we’re one down we don’t want to concede any more. But it’s 90 minutes and maybe more, as last night showed.”
Leeds: Casilla; Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Hernandez, Shackleton, Klich, Harrison; Bamford. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Brown, Jansson, Strulik, Clarke, Gotts, Bogusz.
Derby: Roos; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone; Johnson, Holmes, Wilson, Mount, Lawrence; Bennett. Subs: Carson, Jozefzoon, Marriott, Evans, Cole, Knight, Huddlestone.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
A 1-0 aggregate lead in a two-legged tie? Pah. That’s nothing these days, as we witnessed in the Champions League last week. You want at least a 4-0 lead now. Anything less invites disaster. One-nil? One-nil is nothing.
Not that Marcelo Bielsa needs me to tell him not to take anything for granted. The Leeds United manager, who has a game on in the background while I type these words, is the ultimate football nerd and will be all too aware that this Championship play-off semi-final is far from over. Leeds might hold the advantage over Frank Lampard’s Derby County, who are managed by Frank Lampard, but it could yet be a dramatic evening at Elland Road. Good luck if you’re feeling confident with your predictions.
Mind you, there’s every chance that the Leeds fans will be belting out their Spygate-inspired chant about Derby manager come full-time. Bielsa’s side might have blown automatic promotion, but they remain a nifty outfit and have beaten Derby in all three of their meetings this season (helped, no doubt, by those surreptitious scouting sessions). “Stop crying Frank Lampard,” was the taunt from the away end during last Saturday’s first leg and it’s bound to get a few airings here. The potential for bantz is high.
Derby, who only made it into the play-offs on the final day, will be determined to have the last laugh. They won’t want to be anyone’s punchline, not with so much spice in the air, and you never know, anything could happen if they throw caution to the wind, go for broke and find a Lucas Moura in their ranks. All available logic indicates that it should be Leeds who march on to a final against Aston Villa (a repeat of the 1996 League Cup final? Yes please!). After recent events, however, you’d be a fool to think this is done and dusted.
Kick-off: 7.45pm BST.