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Preview: Leeds United v Blues

Opposition plays a big part because Leeds want to do the same as us, attack and when they lose the ball get it back as quickly as possible to keep attacking.

Pep Clotet.

Our full match preview ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture between Leeds United and Blues at Elland Road (3pm kick-off).

Pep Clotet on how he has used the international break to work with his players...
"We always use the time in the international break as effectively as we can. I'm very positive on the work we've done over the last two weeks after the Middlesbrough game. We've looked at how we've been in the last five games because I work on blocks of a few games to know exactly how we are in the moment and where we've come from and work on that. At the same time because the physical element is very important to us, we will be able to establish the pressing game that we want. For us that's the future, to link that pressing game with creating a side that is as offensive as possible. It was very important for us to come from three weeks where the load was very high because there were a lot of games in a short period of time so it was very important to build a micro cycle where recovery was very important at the beginning of last week. Midweek we started to load the players a bit physically technically and tactically and this week it's been about game preparation. everyone is available which is good. I think we've made the best out of these two weeks preparation."

Pep Clotet asked if the performance and result against Middlesbrough would help his players believe in the process...
"Yes, and actually it helps them to believe in themselves because every player that I coach here for me they are the best players in the world, and they can do it and it's about them finding out they can do it. It's massive credit to the players for what they did. They showed themselves and the fans what they can do, and the connection was very good. Not only the tactical connection but the social connection that we were able to play at that intensity. We all know it's a really good squad and we know they will handle anything that is thrown at them."

Pep Clotet asked what his side did to create so many chances (there were 26) against Middlesbrough...
"The key to that game was the position of the back-line, which was a little bit higher than usual. That helped us to establish a higher position to start pressing. The players pressed as soon as we lost the ball, that was very, very good. It didn’t take us one second to realise, it was automatic. That means all the work we are doing in practice is very assimilated. That helped very much. It was very difficult for Middlesbrough to start something when they won the ball. But obviously Leeds is used to that, to attack quick and start something so it’s a bigger challenge."

Pepe Clotet asked if there was any chance of Blues playing a similar way against Leeds...
"Everything is possible in life. Opposition plays a big part because Leeds want to do the same as us, attack and when they lose the ball get it back as quickly as possible to keep attacking. That's entirely what we want so it's going to be very interesting. Leeds are possibly a year and a half ahead of us. But we have a lot of confidence in ourselves. It is a game we want to use as a benchmark and it's a fantastic test and a fantastic challenge. We hope that both teams put in a great display and we can see a fantastic football game."

Pep Clotet asked if he still had fond memories of his time at Leeds as Assistant Head Coach back in 2016...
"I loved it. Probably everyone who works at that club loves it. But it was special for me, my son was born then, that’s always part of the image. I realised how big that club is when I was there - I realised as well how big this club is when I came in here. The city has nothing else other than Leeds United when it comes to other clubs and everybody backs it. At the same time, despite how well I was there, I am happy, happier even, here. When the game starts it is about the game, it will have no effect. We just want to beat them."

Leeds United Head Coach Marcelo Bielsa's comments ahead of the game...
"I will say again what I have said before. Always in the Championship are difficult matches. This team (Blues) has changed its style a little bit. They have a little bit more of possession, they added players to the team. We think it is going to be a difficult."

Blues team news...
Jefferson Montero has recovered from his thigh injury but is unlikely to figure until he gets more game time. Maikel Kieftenbeld (knee) is currently the only player on the injury list.

Leeds team news...
Swiss defender Gaetano Berardi is eligible to play after successfully appealing the red card he received in Leeds' defeat at Millwall in their last game. Liam Cooper (groin) and Jamie Shackleton (hamstring) are sidelined.

Last five meetings between Leeds United and Blues...
Championship 06 Apr 2019 Blues 1 Leeds 0
Championship 22 Sep 2018 Leeds 1 Blues 2
Championship 30 Dec 2017 Blues 1 Leeds 0
Championship 12 Sep 2017 Leeds 2 Blues 0
Championship 03 Mar 2017 Blues 1 Leeds 3

Total meetings between Leeds and Blues ...
Leeds wins: 39
Draws: 26
Blues wins: 41

Line-ups last league game...
Millwall v Leeds (4-1-4-1): Casilla, Ayling, White, Berardi, Alioski, Phillips (Roberts 76), Dallas, Klich, Harrison, Costa (Douglas 45), Bamford (Nketiah 62).
Subs (not used): Miazek, Gotts, Davis, Clarke.

Blues (4-4-2) v Middlesbrough: Camp, Pedersen, Roberts, Dean, Colin, Bellingham (Gardner, 74) Sunjic, Crowley, Villalba (Maghoma, 76), Gimenez, Jutkiewicz (Bailey,83).
Subs (not used): Stockdale, Harding, Clarke-Salter, Davis.

BluesTV...
BluesTV will be streaming the match live to International Subscribers. Those in the Great Britain and Ireland can get exclusive audio commentary. Commentary will be provided by Jonathan Bell and Dale Moon. For more details about bluesTV, click here.

Match officials...
Robert Jones will take charge of the game. So far this season the Merseyside-based official has refereed nine games, where he has produced a total of 32 yellow cards but no reds. The last Blues game he refereed was our Sky Bet Championship away fixture at Aston Villa in November 2018. Blue lost that game 4-2 and there were five players cautioned; including Wes Harding, Maikel Kieftenbeld and Lukas Jutkiewicz for the visitors. That has been the only Blues fixture to date he has refereed. The last Leeds game he refereed was their Championship home fixture against Nottingham Forest in August 2019. Leeds drew that game 1-1 and four players were cautioned; including Kalvin Phillips and Adam Forshaw for the hosts.
He has refereed six Leeds games in total; three of which they have won, two they have drawn and one they have lost. Mr Jones will be assisted on Saturday by Shaun Hudson and Paul Hodskinson, with Michael Salisbury acting as the fourth official.

Tickets...
This game is all-ticket for Blues fans. No tickets will be available on the day at Elland Road for Blues fans. Blues had sold 1,997 tickets prior to them going off sale.

Supporter message...
The Club urges all supporters to be responsible in their behaviour and actions. Birmingham City knows that the overwhelming majority of our supporters do not indulge in anti-social activities and are passionate about the players and the Club. We appreciate this. We adopt a zero-tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour and spectator misconduct. This includes - amongst other things - drunkenness, throwing of missiles and use and carrying of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs), racist and/or homophobic chanting. Pitch encroachment is forbidden and against the law. Please DO NOT encroach onto the pitch. Any person found to be encroaching on the pitch will automatically be served with a banning order - regardless of the circumstances. It is important that bottles, coins, flares and other items not thrown at our matches. Again, we would like to thank the overwhelming majority of supporters for their backing and their understanding.

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