Frank Lampard’s Derby take on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds on Saturday but who will come out on top? Here’s Andy Hinchcliffe’s tactical preview…
Derby a work in progress
You could see that Lampard was trying to impose a style that saw Derby play out from the back in their first game against Reading, giving possession to their two centre-backs and pushing their full-backs on.
There was nowhere wide for their centre-backs to play though because their full-backs ended up too high and left them with no options. Reading forced them into central areas then swamped the player on the ball. They won the game but the system needs work.
They didn’t play it long and they tried to work it through the thirds, but they kept giving the ball away in defence, especially Richard Keogh in the early stages, and Reading should have taken more advantage. It’s one thing losing the ball to Reading but it will be another altogether to lose it to Leeds in those areas, who will punish them more.
Leeds were almost perfect
Ninety-nine per cent of Leeds’ game plan against Stoke was perfect. I can’t remember in the past five or six years seeing any team as tactically successful as they were in that game, which is incredible when you consider they’ve only been working on it for six weeks under Bielsa.
It was a level of performance I didn’t see coming. We know Bielsa’s style but there were subtleties to their display that you don’t normally see in the Championship, and the work rate he got out of his front four was incredible.
Then there was the midfield and the way Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich, who couldn’t even get in the team last season, interchanged and played in front and behind of each other. It was everything Bielsa is about.
We have to remember it was just one game but you can see how his philosophy has already impacted on what was a pretty average team last season. Stoke just couldn’t cope with them and they got ripped apart, which is a huge warning for Derby.
4:06 Leeds 3-1 Stoke Derby relying on individuals
Derby needed a bit of individual class from Tom Lawrence to win the game at Reading. They weren’t a constant attacking threat throughout the game but they have players like Lawrence and Mason Mount who can turn it for you in a split second.
That won’t be enough over the course of a season. The structure of the team has to be right and that’s what Lampard needs to work on. He is learning on the job and things will improve, but he admitted afterwards that they didn’t play well enough.
They are trying to play like Fulham and Wolves were last season but both of those sides were better than Derby will be this season. This side won’t rip teams apart. They have got to work hard on their style or work out a slightly different way of playing sometimes.
Derby vs Leeds
August 11, 2018, 5:15pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Roofe was on fire
Kemar Roofe did everything in a forward sense for Leeds. His movement and awareness were superb and he was the ideal foil for the creative players behind him. He also gave Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi a torrid afternoon and could put Keogh and Curtis Davies through the same.
He could have been a bit nervous with Patrick Bamford sitting on the bench and knowing he had to perform, but Bamford might have a bit of work getting into the team now. He’ll need to replicate that level because that’s what you need to do under Bielsa.
Bamford is an interesting one because he doesn’t strike me as Bielsa-type player, and if he can fit in then it would be impressive. There’s no doubt, though, that Roofe has laid down a marker.
3:39 Reading 1-2 Derby Where will the game be won and lost?
Derby were laboured in possession and ended up in areas where they didn’t want to be. Leeds will be better at pressing than Reading, they’ll be more on the front foot and play 15 yards further up the pitch.
Whether Leeds can replicate that display both on Saturday and over the course of the season remains to be seen and we know that Bielsa won’t compromise on his style.
If we get the same performances from both teams that we got last week then Leeds will swarm all over Derby and give them real problems.