Middlesbrough v Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa braced for friction and possible toughest test yet

MARCELO BIELSA believes Saturday's hosts Middlesbrough have already presented Leeds United’s hardest test so far with the head coach expecting more of the same at The Riverside.

Friday, 8th February 2019, 2:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th February 2019, 9:34 am
WE'LL MEET AGAIN: Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis and Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Boro have the best defensive record in the Championship and held United to a goalless draw at Elland Road on the last day of August as Bielsa’s Whites dropped points for only the second time this season at that time.

Five and a half months on, Leeds sit level on points with leaders Norwich City and second on goal difference but approaching Saturday's reverse fixture having lost four of their last six league games on the back of last weekend’s 3-1 loss at home to Norwich.

Boro have conceded just 22 goals in 29 games whereas Leeds are the joint-third highest scorers in the division netting 50 goals in their 30 games.

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Whites head coach Bielsa said: “If I had to choose which was the hardest game we’ve played so far, with frictions, the one that presented the most difficult and physical challenges, I would say it’s the one against Middlesbrough. And I think this will be the trend of the coming game.”

Asked what changes he would be making based on what he learned from the first fixture, Bielsa insisted; “Nothing has changed. We were not surprised by the way Middlesbrough played in the first game.

“We knew they would play this kind of game and in the duel of styles, the opponent, Middlesbrough won. Because they didn’t play better than us, they didn’t have the ball, but they had more chances to score than us.

“They prevented us from playing and being faithful to their method they were able to create chances to score against us. It was one of the few games we deserved to lose, and actually it was a draw.”