Leeds United will be hoping to seal direct promotion to the Premier League next season when they host Barnsley at Elland Road tomorrow. The Whites currently have a six-point lead over third-placed Brentford heading into this encounter. With just three matches remaining, they could potentially seal promotion if the Bees fail to win against Preston.
Barnsley, meanwhile, are dawdling in the bottom of the league table. A surprise win against Leeds United this week could help overtake Hull City and Luton Town, putting them in an excellent position to escape the wrath of relegation come the end of the campaign.
Leeds United Vs Barnsley Tactical Preview
Marcelo Bielsa is not exactly fond of changing tactics and teams week in week out. But, the Leeds United manager might be forced to revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation in light of Kalvin Phillips’ recent injury. Aside from that, the Whites are expected to stick to their possession-based approach, looking to create a host of chances against the bottom side.
The Barnsley defence has fared rather well when compared to fellow strugglers in the Championship this season. However, that is no excuse for manager Gerhard Struber to employ an attacking approach against Leeds United. Instead, 43-year-old could opt for a compact setup, trying to frustrate the opposition by offering them very little space on the ball. It almost worked for Swansea City last time out.
As mentioned earlier, Leeds United will have to deal with the absence of Phillips this week. The key midfielder has been ruled out for the rest of the season, serving as a significant blow for Bielsa. Phillips’ absence should pave the way for Pablo Hernandez to return to the starting lineup while Illan Meslier should retain his place in goal despite the return of Kiko Casilla, who has served his eight-game suspension.
Predicted Lineup: Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Hernandez, Klich; Costa, Roberts, Harrison; Bamford.
Barnsley is set to miss out on the services of youngster Romal Palmer for the rest of the season. But they could have former Leeds United defender Aapo Halme back into the starting lineup with Gruber likely to revert to a 3-4-1-2 formation to provide better defensive coverage.
Predicted Lineup: Radlinger; Solbauer, Juel Andersen, Halme; Ludewig, Styles, Mowatt, Ritzmeier; Woodrow; Brown, Chaplin.
Hernandez was the difference-maker for Leeds United in the win over Swansea City. The Spaniard replaced Tyler Roberts at half-time and provided the creative spark that was missing. With Hernandez likely to start in the absence of Phillips this week, it could be imperative for Barnsley to prevent him too much freedom in the middle of the park.
Barnsley are more than likely to defend in deep blocks. But, they need to make full use of the limited opportunity they are expected to get if they are to salvage anything from this game, and that’s where the club’s topscorer, Cauley Woodrom comes into the fray. The ex-Fulham attacker has already netted 14 goals in the Championship term, and Leeds must be careful of his offensive presence.