CARDIFF host Championship pace-setters Leeds on Sunday. James Cantrill (@) shares his thoughts on Sunday's showdown.
Cardiff v Leeds | Sunday 21st June 2020, 12:00 | Sky Sports
The Championship returns this weekend, without doubt my favourite league in the world. and this clash has all the ingredients to embody the ethos that the second tier of English football represents!
Cardiff are a side in the midst of a re-build following relegation from the Premier League last season. Dubbed somewhat ‘anti-football’, the majority of their squad consists of the remnants of Neil Warnock’s tenancy. With the likes of Aden Flint, Sean Morrison and Callum Paterson amongst their ranks, you can see why they might opt for a more agricultural approach.
However, the Bluebirds do have arguably the most technically gifted players in the league; Lee Tomlin. The chubby maverick that operates just off the striker is a joy to watch.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are on the cusp of promotion once more, an all to familiar prospect for whites fans come this stage of the season. In stark contrast to Cardiff, El Loco’s side play total football, best epitomised by the fact that they out-passed Arsenal on their own back yard.
Back in February, in the FA Cup fixture at the Emirates Stadium, Leeds had 58.6% possession, attempting 125 more passes then the Gunners. In possession they play with pace, movement and width. Out of possession they press high with purpose; manipulating their opposition into certain areas and setting traps.
The difference in the sides tactical approaches adds an interesting dimension to this game. Will Cardiff be able to beat Leeds’s high press and utilise the pace of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Junior Hoilett to exploit the space they leave in-behind?
Jazz Richards to be carded (5/1 William Hill)
Bielsa is a tactical enigma. A lot of managers try to use some form of positional rotation to create space and numerical advantages by moving opponents out of a desired space. This usually involves players preoccupying half spaces early, particularly in the centre of the pitch.
However, Bielsa’s adaptation on this technique is unique as Leeds look to completely vacate the central areas of the pitch. This entails their more advanced central midfielders pushing high enough to occupy the oppositions defenders and their holding midfielder (usually Kalvin Phillips) dropping in amongst their centre backs. This often creates offensive one v ones and overloads on the wings.
In terms of betting angles, I’m drawn to Jack Harrison’s (left midfield) direct opponent in the card markets. WhoScored have Jazz Richards down to start right back, although, it could also potentially be youngster Dion Sanderson or even Leandro Bacuna. I’m focusing solely on Richards for this one. He’s only started 10 games this season and received four bookings.
Harrison tops the charts for Leeds in terms of dribbles per-games (1.9) and dispossessions (2.2) this season. He’s also been fouled an average of 1.2 times per-game. Jazz Richards is available at 5/1 on William Hill.
Jack Harrison 2+ Shots (10/11 Sky Bet)
I’ve just eluded to how much of an offensive threat both Leeds and Jack Harrison pose.
Harrison has 1.7 shots per-game this season, which rises to 2.2 in his last 10 starts, in which over 2 shots landed on seven occasions.
In Cardiff’s last fixture, Barnsley didn’t play with an out-and-out winger as such but in the two games prior to that this bet has landed as their opposition's left-sided players have had an average of 2.50 shots.
Harrison is 10/11 to have 2+ shots on Sky Bet.
Cardiff v Leeds – Jazz Richards to be carded (5/1 William Hill)
Cardiff v Leeds – Jack Harrison to have 2+ Shots (10/11 Sky Bet)