Leeds v Derby
Wednesday May 15, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Leeds take first leg control
Leeds have the advantage in the Championship play-off semi-final after a controversial first-leg win over Derby at Pride Park. Kemar Roofe's 15th goal of the season was the difference between the teams, the forward producing an excellent first-time finish from Jack Harrison's curling pass from the left wing to settle matters 10 minutes into the second half.
Marcelo Bielsa's men breathed a sigh of relief when a penalty decision against them was overturned with 14 minutes to go, whilst Rams fans were incensed when Whites midfielder Mateusz Klich was only given a yellow card after he appeared to headbutt Fikayo Tomori in the chest. Despite the flash points, Leeds were clear and deserving winners on Saturday.
The visitors dominated possession and could easily have enjoyed a larger advantage with Pablo Hernandez passing up a presentable opportunity. However, Roofe will miss the return leg through injury, along with Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts and potentially Pontus Jansson. Patrick Bamford returns up top with Jamie Shackleton and Gaetano Berardi also filling in.
Derby disappoint at Pride Park
Derby manager Frank Lampard accused first leg referee Craig Pawson of using "human VAR" as his Rams side were outclassed in their 1-0 reverse on Saturday. The County boss was honest about his team's failings but was left dismayed by the whistle-blower's decision to rescind a Derby penalty on the advice of his linesman, and didn't hold back post-match.
Twice in three years Derby have crumbled in the play-off semi-finals and the Rams again failed to show when it mattered most. County managed only six shots, none of which were on-target with just one attempt at goal arriving from inside the penalty area from a dead-ball situation. The hosts generated just 0.11 Expected Goals (xG) at Pride Park.
Lampard has been handed a boost by the news that 13-goal forward Martyn Waghorn is in line to return to the starting XI following an Achilles tendon injury, replacing David Nugent in attack. Elsewhere, Duane Holmes is available after coming off with 20 minutes left of the first leg and Ashley Cole could also feature after returning to training on Monday
Whites backed for Wembley
No side has ever made the Championship play-off final having lost at home in the first leg from 17 previous examples and Leeds are now just [1.15] to progress to Wembley. Indeed, teams finishing third in the Championship haven't lost the home leg of the play-off semi-final since 2009/10 (W7-D1-L0) and the Whites have impressed against Derby this term.
Marcelo Bielsa's men have beaten the visitors in all three meetings in 2018/19, conceding just 26 shots, six on-target strikes and one goal across four-and-a-half hours of action. Exclude the top two in the regular season and Leeds 1.768/11 have W14-D4-L3 at Elland Road under the Argentine with their 63% xG ratio on home soil a divisional best this season.
Derby 5.309/2 supremo Frank Lampard admitted his troops must "be better on the ball and be more confident" if they are to find a way back into this contest. However, the Rams have returned W1-D5-L4 in their most recent 10 outings, firing blanks in half of those fixtures. In fact, each of Derby's six defeats in 2019 have seen them fail to score.
High-scoring shoot-out unlikely
First leg EFL play-off contests are notoriously cagey but the goals per-game average increases from 2.10 to 2.60 in second leg battles with a smidgen under half of those return ties featuring Over 2.5 Goals 1.814/5. The odds on offer reflect the expected increase in total goals, which isn't necessarily backed up by the numbers for Wednesday night.
During the regular campaign, both clubs saw Over 2.5 Goals pay-out in 11/23 (48%) of their respective home/away outings. Only three of Leeds' meetings here against top-half teams followed suit; Derby delivered three or more goals in six of 11 trips to top-half teams and will be chasing a route back, although there's little value in supporting a high-scoring game.
Having already teed up a Leeds victory this midweek, I'm happy to chuck in Under 3.5 Goals too with Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi offering the two selections as a 2.40 (7/5) shot. It's banked in 20 of the Whites' Championship wins under Marcelo Bielsa and 10 of Derby's 13 defeats during Frank Lampard's stewardship.
Anthony Taylor is the man in the middle and could be in for a busy evening's work. The relationship between the two clubs is strained after the "Spygate" scandal, as well as a fractious first leg that only soured the ill-feeling further.
The three head-to-head meetings between the pair have yielded a total of 18 yellow cards, with each featuring a minimum of five, as Derby led the way with 12 bookings to Leeds' six. Over the course of the regular season campaign, only Nottingham Forest have picked up more yellows than Derby, while Leeds were fifth in the table by that same measure.
Derby are 8/11 to receive the most cards on the night with Over 50 Bookings Points available to support at evens. Both punts hold plenty of appeal, although it's worth noting that Taylor is a relatively lenient official that averages just 35.30 Bookings Points across his Premier League and Championship duties in 2018/19.