Leeds United vs Cardiff City Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats
Leeds United will be targeting a return to the Premier League as they prepare for their EFL Championship season opener against Cardiff City.
Buoyed by new ownership and new management, Leeds United will be eyeing a quick return to the Premier League ahead of their EFL Championship opener against Cardiff City at Elland Road.
The Welsh visitors successfully staved off relegation last season, finishing 21st in the second division. Leeds, on the other hand, were unsuccessful in their relegation dogfight and now find themselves back in the Championship.
Cardiff are also under new management, with Erol Bulut now in charge at the Millenium Stadium. Leeds will do well to not take the result for granted as the visitors have strengthened this summer and will be aiming for a new dawn under their exciting young boss.
Curiously, Cardiff City were the last Championship side to beat Leeds, all the way back in 2020 under Marcelo Bielsa. Much has changed since and the opening clash between the two sides could set the stage for what to expect from either team next season. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might implement.
Several high profile names have departed Elland Road either on loan or on a permanent basis this summer. With injuries also prevalent in the squad, Daniel Farke will be hard-pressed to name his strongest XI on the night.
Stuart Dallas, Tyler Adams, Sam Greenwood, Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford, Cody Drameh, Georginio Rutter, and Junior Firpo are all out injured. Farke is short of options, especially in midfield and this could see the new Leeds boss deploy new signing Ethan Ampadu further upfield.
A 4-3-3 formation appears to be the way forward for Farke with Ilian Meslier in goal. The Frenchman will be protected by the back four of Pascal Struijk, Liam Cooper, Charlie Cresswell and Luke Ayling.
Darko Gyabi will, in all likelihood, start in central midfield and should be flanked by the duo of Jamie Shackleton and Ethan Ampadu. The latter, especially, has much experience and should prove to be an asset for the Yorkshire side in their fight for promotion.
Wilfried Gnonto is attracting much attention this summer but is still at Elland Road and should lead the line on the night. The duo of Crysencio Summerville and Daniel James will provide the width and add attacking nous down the flanks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meslier; Struijk, Cooper, Cresswell, Ayling; Shackleton, Gyabi, Ampadu; Summerville, Gnonto, James
Largely touted as relegation favourites, Cardiff City have had a busy summer and have brought in several new players. More so, Erol Bulut is a talented manager capable of turning the club’s fortunes around with his exciting new tactics.
First-choice goalkeeper Ryan Allsop will miss the opening Championship clash following his injury against Wycombe Wanderers, and Jak Alnwick is expected to deputise in goal. Romaine Sawyers is also ruled out, while Mark McGuinness missed the trip to Wycombe.
McGuinness is back in training alongside the injured trio of Yakou Meite, Joe Ralls, and Rubin Colwill. Cardiff City have every reason to believe the quartet can make the cut for the game.
Bulut is expected to deploy the visitors in a 4-2-3-1 formation that will aim to secure control of the midfield. Given the players missing in the middle of the park for Leeds, Cardiff could gain control of the pace of the game if they keep a tight formation anchored by dual midfielders.
The back four is likely to consist of Joel Bagan, Dimitrios Goutas, Perry Ng and Mahlon Romeo. Veteran midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Joe Ralls should anchor the midfield giving the trio of Yakou Meite, Rubin Colwill and Josh Bowler the freedom to push forward. Karlan Grant will be expected to lead the line and help Cardiff put last season’s goal-scoring woes behind them.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alnwick; Bagan, Goutas, Perry, Romeo; Ramsey, Ralls; Meite, Colwill, Bowler; Grant
- Leeds United have not defeated Cardiff City in any of their last five league games. The Peacocks have lost four and drawn one during this abject run.
- Cardiff City have lost just once in their last 12 visits to Elland Road in the Championship. This was all the way back in 2015. The last Championship game between the two sides in Yorkshire ended 3-3 in 2019.
- Leeds United have lost just one of their last 19 season openers that were played at home at Elland Road.
- Cardiff City have won just two of their last ten season openers in the league.
- Leeds United’s last defeat in the Championship came against Cardiff City in June 2020.
- Cardiff City have scored two or more goals against Leeds United in their last seven games across all competitions.
Player to Watch
The former Chelsea star is an extremely talented player who arrived at Elland Road earlier this summer. Given the injuries in the Leeds United squad, the 22-year-old is expected to go straight into the first XI for the game.
While playing further upfield is outside Ampadu’s best position at centre-back, he has the skills to thrive in the middle of the park. A proficient player on and off the ball, Ampadu will be tasked with breaking the lines and progressing the ball from the defence to attack. How well he can sidestep the Cardiff double pivot could help decide the tie.
Leeds United 2-1 Cardiff City
While Leeds United do have injuries, home support and the superior quality of players available to them should see them through. Cardiff are likely to surprise quite a few teams this season. But the opener at Elland Road is too soon for them to be at their best.
Daniel Farke has a good idea of negotiating the Championship given his prior experience and should open his account at Leeds with a narrow win. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 victory for the home side.