Dominic Matteo sends 'legacy' message to Leeds United stars as key play-off final advantage highlighted

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Leeds United can make history with victory over Southampton on Sunday.

Dominic Matteo has urged the Leeds United players to go out and create a ‘legacy’ in producing a first-ever play-off final victory on Sunday.

Leeds face Southampton at Wembley on Sunday knowing they could be just 90 minutes away from an instant return to the Premier League. Daniel Farke’s side look to have rediscovered their form at the perfect time and last week’s semi-final second-leg 4-0 thumping of Norwich City has seen confidence flourish once again.

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Bengal Brasserie

Bengal Brasserie Arena Quarter – serving authentic Indian cuisine in the heart of the city. Proudly supporting Leeds United and the YEP.

Leeds fans are all too familiar with the heartbreak play-off football can offer, having failed to go all the way in five previous attempts across the Championship, League One and old First Division. But Thursday’s win - and post-match atmosphere - seems to have lit a fire under those involved and Matteo believes that renewed belief could give them a crucial edge come Sunday.

“It will be a difficult game,” the former Leeds defender told Sky Sports. “I expect they [Southampton] will be well-drilled but also they take risks. They play out from the back, they’re one of the teams who do that and they do it well. We only finished three points ahead of them so there's not much in it. 

“I'm expecting a really tight game. I'd put us slight favourites because of the way we played in our last game. I know they did well as well [a 3-1 win at home to West Brom on Friday] but I just think the way we finished that game at Elland Road, the atmosphere was incredible.

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“I get goosebumps talking about it because it brings me back to when I was in that Leeds team and we got to where we got to. That's gone now, but for these players, they can make a legacy. Getting promoted, open top bus maybe, but the same for Southampton. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves. I wont say it's going to be an easy game - far from it.”

Farke has done his utmost to keep a level head as Leeds prepare for the long journey south, and that calmness has fed into the playing squad who were relaxed during a media day at Thorp Arch on Monday. Midfielder Glen Kamara told the YEP that nothing had changed in the build-up to the final, with the demand to perform as high as it always is.

That mindset will prove crucial on a day in which everyone around the pitch will be emotionally shot, while those going toe-to-toe must keep their composure. And it is testament to Farke that his side were cold and calculated in their dissection of Norwich in the semi-final.

Sunday will present a different challenge entirely, not least in coming up against a Southampton side who beat Leeds home and away during the regular season. But Farke and Ampadu, who will likely lead the side out on Sunday, insist results prior to the play-offs mean nothing anymore.

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Leeds will hope to have Patrick Bamford fit after a month-long absence due to a patellar tendon injury, but Pascal Struijk remains unavailable. Southampton should welcome forward pair Che Adams and Ross Stewart back in the squad, although long-term absentees Stuart Armstrong and Gavin Bazunu will miss out.