Marcelo Bielsa outlines Leeds United incentive as Tottenham Hotspur chase Champions League spot
MARCELO Bielsa says Leeds United have just as much to play for as Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's Premier League clash at Elland Road.
Interim boss Ryan Mason's Spurs side sit sixth in the Premier League table and five points adrift of the division's final Champions League qualification place with just four games to go.
European qualification of any sort now is now a big long shot for 11th-placed Leeds but Whites head coach Bielsa says there is much more to his side's motivation than their place on the Premier League ladder.
Newly-promoted United are already mathematically assured of their stay in the country's top division and the Whites are only two points behind ninth-placed Arsenal in spite of last weekend's 2-0 defeat at relegation battling.
Assessing whether the fact that Spurs could qualify for the Champions League added extra intensity to Saturday's lunch time kick-off at Elland Road, Bielsa reasoned: "The predisposition that they have, considering what they have to play for, I never imagine it bigger than ours because I always think that we need to go into every game protecting everything that is put in play every time we compete.
"It's not only what you are fighting for that gives potential for a team, it's not only the position in the table but the pride that it is to take part in a game in high competition and to overcome it.
"The last game had a special valuation for us.
"Even if before the game it looked like the opposing team had more things to play for.
"Whether we played well or we didn't - it's not going to be for the dimension of what each team is looking for.
"It's never going to be the objective that the opponent or us are looking for, a motive to condition the quality of what we are going to give.
"We are always looking to give the maximum that we are capable of doing."
Leeds headed for last weekend's clash at Brighton in ninth place on the back of a six-game unbeaten run which included a 2-1 victory at champions elect Manchester City and draws at home to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
But the Whites never got going at the Amex and fell to a 2-0 defeat as part of a game in which Bielsa's side had just two shots on target.
"It's natural that all the evaluations of the team are linked to the last game," said Bielsa.
"But nothing that has happened doesn't mean that we haven't considered everything to avoid what happens.
"We know exactly the importance that each game has and the convenience of avoiding the irregularity and we also know that the games and the team is evaluated game by game and for us the most important thing is to overcome the previous evaluation."
Asked if it was now about being more consistent and how that could be achieved, Bielsa reasoned: "We have already showed this with continuity, six games prior to the defeat against Brighton indicated an even performance that we gave - unless we consider the defeat against Brighton a significant alteration in our own form and I don't think it is this way.
I don't think so because I look at the performance levels of teams in a similar position to ours and there isn't one who doesn't have a poor performance level between every five or six games. Apart from two or three teams, every team has gone through this situation."
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Thank you Laura Collins