Leeds United v Liverpool - press conference recap: Marcelo Bielsa on Raphinha's fitness, Whites future and Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa met the media on Thursday lunchtime ahead of a Premier League clash with Liverpool at Elland Road.
The Whites takes on the Reds on Monday night in LS11 as they host the top flight's reigning champions.
United enter the game 10th in the standings having toppled Manchester City 2-1 with 10 men at the Etihad stadium last weekend.
Liverpool, though, crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday evening at the hands of Real Madrid after a 3-1 aggregate defeat.
Jurgen Klopp s men will finish the season trophyless and are currently sat sixth in the league table, three points outside the top four.
Here are the key points from what Bielsa had to say during his sit down with the media on Thursday...
Q: How important was the first Liverpool game in setting the tone for the season?
Bielsa: It was a game with goals and emotion. It was the first game and despite the defeat it left some good feelings. It was at the start but throughout the development of the league it forces you to renovate.
Q: What do you make of Jurgen Klopp's style of football? How do you compare his philosophy to your own?
Bielsa: I like to see Liverpool play. They always play in the same manner, for me that is big praise to give to a team.
There's no player in the team who is not prepared to receive or manage the ball wherever they receive it. They have big offensive power. Their full-backs are wingers. Their wingers are centre forwards throughout moments of the game. Their midfielders on the inside can attack out wide or inside in the same manner.
There are three players who provide the defensive equilibrium - they don't speculate, they always attack. They spend a lot of time attacking and not much defending. Like every team they have ups and down.
Q: How is Raphinha? Where is your squad in terms of fitness?
Bielsa: Raphinha is recovering from a knock in the game against Manchester City. His evolution, we will see in the next couple of days. He received a knock in his thigh.
Q: What is the problem with Rodrigo?
Bielsa: Rodrigo is in the process of recovering from a muscular injury obtained last week.
Q: How is Adam Forshaw? He played a game at Thorp Arch on Saturday. Will he play for the Under-23s?
Bielsa: It went well for Forshaw on Saturday. He will play with the Under-23s on Friday. In the game on Saturday he played more than one half, the idea tomorrow is for him to play more - to add minutes.
Q: How big an achievement would it be for the Under-23s to lift the title in their first season of Premier League 2?
Bielsa: I give a lot of value to the work that the current manager has done with the group, especially taking into account the Under-23s is a constant help to the first team.
This means that their coach has to accommodate his plans on the needs of the first team. This weakens the programme of work. Within that scenario is not an ideal one. The coach and players have contributed in a very valuable way.
Q: Has there been any movement on your contract? There were reports about a two-year deal...
Bielsa: That information is not real. I ignore the origin. Those things either the club can say or I can say. We possess this information. If there was any information to give then I would give it.
Q: What does it mean for you to play your part in the current history of Leeds United?
Bielsa: I have always said the institution at Leeds is very big. The sporting past of Leeds is full of very high points.
To win four games in a row in the Premier League compared to all the things Leeds have achieved it is not so big. To be able to be at the height of the past some extraordinary things need to be done.
Q: Can Leeds finish in the top half this season?
Bielsa: Everything that is mathematically possible is within our aspirations. After the way we played in the remaining seven games, the points we obtain will give the campaign more shine or less shine.
Q: Diego Llorente - what have you made of his recent run of games after his injury issues?
Bielsa: He's played well. He hasn't had any bad games. He's had a performance level that has improved every time he has played. He started playing well and has been playing better each time.
Q: Will Luke Ayling take over the armband now Liam Cooper is suspended? What are his leadership qualities?
Bielsa: The captain of the team is chosen by the players. The captain is the leader and is the one who conducts his teammates.
There's nothing better than the players choosing how they conduct their behaviour than them. Ayling has all the capabilities to be a leader and conductor for the team.
He has the most important virtue - he doesn't speak too much and acts in the way he should - he leads by example.
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