Leeds United – Match Report vs Cardiff City – 21/6/2020

In the first game back for both teams since the break, Leeds missed a chance to extend their lead over automatic promotion chasers to 10 points as they lost 2-0 to Cardiff. Cardiff moved up to 7th level on points with the team in the final playoff place. Leeds played a 4-1-4-1 formation and controlled the majority of the ball but found it difficult to break down a resolute Cardiff side. Two mistakes gave Cardiff their chances to score and they did so well with two high quality finishes.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Ben White

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 8/10/1997
  • Club: Leeds United
  • Career: Brighton, Newport (L), Peterborough (L), Leeds (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

White played this game at right centre back alongside Liam Cooper. He had less defending to do than usual but when he did have to he did it well. He covered passing options well and he marked opposition players effectively. He demonstrated good pace to track runners and follow attackers across the pitch and he put in some good tackles, including one important block on the edge of the area towards the end of the game.

White really shines on the ball, he was composed under pressure and showed a good range of passing. He was able to play accurate diagonal passes as well as vertical passes to break lines but his decision making was good. He knew when to retain possession instead of forcing passes that weren’t on. He was confident with the ball at his feet, he successfully stepped out of defence with the ball a number of times and was able to dribble past players into midfield and drive his team forwards if he couldn’t find a pass. He was able to get out of situations where he was under pressure with good dribbling and body movements and he was unfazed by having attackers in his face.

At 6ft 1 he was solid in the air, winning most of his aerial battles and he was able to be a threat in the opposition box with a header that dropped just over the bar. He is agile in defence and able to slow up attackers when they dribble at him. He perhaps could have closed down the shot that led to the first goal but he had to cover a pass in behind at the same time and he did well to show the attacker towards fellow defenders to give them an opportunity to press despite the move ending in a goal.

Rating – A1

Kalvin Phillips

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 2/12/1995
  • Club: Leeds United
  • Career: Leeds United
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Phillips played as the one defensive midfielder in this game. He linked the defence and midfield well and his range of passing was on show in this game. Phillips is 5’8″ so isn’t one of the biggest players on the pitch but that doesn’t detract from the physicality of his game. He was aggressive in the tackle and when pressing as well as being competitive in the air against taller opponents. Phillips evidently enjoys a physical challenge but when Leeds were behind he can sometimes let frustration get to his head and be a bit rash in the tackle, which in one instance led to him being booked.

Phillips’ passing range was well displayed in this game from both deep and attacking positions. In his own half he was regularly able to play long passes over the top to his wingers with impressive weight and accuracy in order to get attacks moving higher up the pitch. He was also intelligent with his short passing, he linked up with defenders and midfielders well and his passing and movement was important for building moves as he was always an option at the base of midfield to either start an attacking move or to keep the ball moving. He was at fault for the first goal for being too casual on the ball, he tried to play a simple first time pass which was under-hit and misdirected. It was subsequently intercepted which led to the goal. He was probably guilty of switching focus to his move after the pass rather than focussing on playing the ball correctly. Phillips was also able to demonstrate his passing ability in the final third, his pass choice was sensible and he moved the ball well to try and work openings and he was able to create one big chance for Bamford with a well weighted, controlled dink over the top into the strikers path which he was unable to finish.

Defensively Phillips was solid, he covered ground laterally very well and was responsible for breaking up moves with tackles and interceptions. He was capable of stepping in at centre back to cover when players were out of position and later in the game as Leeds pushed on he played deeper as a third centre back almost to allow full backs to push on. He was comfortable on the ball, showed some good touches and that he was able to beat players with the ball at his feet.

Phillips was responsible for a lot of the set piece delivery in this game. His set pieces were generally ineffective and caused little threat. He often targeted the front post areas and these were easily cleared by Cardiff defenders and his deeper crosses were either slightly over hit or lacked the pace to be a threat for a the defenders. Phillips’ role in the Leeds’ side suits his attributes very well, but he certainly shows the skill set required to step up and play at a higher standard.

Rating – A2

Tyler Roberts

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 12/1/1999
  • Club: Leeds United
  • Career: West Brom (Y), Oxford United (L), Shrewsbury (L), Walsall (L), Leeds United
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred foot: Right

Playing somewhat out of position, Roberts was deployed as an attacking midfielder playing behind the striker. Roberts struggled to affect the game as much as he would’ve liked but still had some good moments in the game.

The congestion in and around Cardiff’s area meant Roberts wasn’t afforded much space to work in but he was still able to engineer some space from himself be that through his movement or his dribbling ability. On a few occasions he showed good technical ability to keep the ball in tight areas and beat defenders with some good skill. He was able to pick up space in between defenders and between the lines and he was always moving, looking to get in the ball. He was able to create one good chance, he moved into space between the full back and centre back before turning and delivering a good cross into the box that would’ve resulted in a goal had Harrison’s shot not been blocked by Bamford.

Robert’s passing was generally good, he linked up well and played some good passes in and around the area and helped to get Leeds in good positions to create chances. He wasn’t able to get himself involved in goal scoring areas too often but he was unlucky not to score a goal as he was denied by a top save by Smithies from close range. His first touch was good when receiving, he was able to keep the ball close and create some separation from defenders with it in order to have an effective second touch.

He worked hard for the majority of the game, but towards the end of the game he started to struggle a bit with his fitness and became less effective. At 5’9″ he was competitive in the air without being dangerous.

Rating – B1

Jack Harrison

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 20/11/1996
  • Club: Leeds United
  • Career: Chicago Fire, New York City, Man City, Middlesbrough (L), Leeds (L)
  • Position: Left Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Harrison played the game on Leeds’ left hand side, his running caused some problems for Cardiff and he was always an outlet for diagonal passes from deep. Harrison took up wide starting positions and he looked to isolate himself up against the full back to either beat him and create space for a cross or to wait for an overlap from his full back which would create space for one of them. He was confident with the ball at his feet and often looked to dribble past his defender, he often slowed the ball up to stand the defender up and look to accelerate away which he was sometimes able to do.

Harrison lacked a bit of composure in the final third, he was able to get into some good positions in and around the wide areas of the box but his final ball was lacking and he struggled to create many if any goal scoring opportunities for his teammates. He delivered a fair few cross which were either over-hit or cut out before they could reach their target. Harrison was also guilty of slowing up some counter attacking chances by checking back and trying to dribble past a defender when it may have payed to be a bit more direct and moved the ball in fewer touches than he was taking.

Harrison was unlucky not to score with a shot that was blocked on the goal line by his own offside striker, there were some questions over the placement of that but it was a strike that would’ve beaten the keeper had it not been for that intervention. Harrison also snatched at a chance late in the game after a ball sat up for him after he came out on top in a 50/50 in the box, a more relaxed and composed finish may have seen him get a goal back but he volleyed over instead.

His passing in the middle thirds was generally good, he often looked to play one twos with team mates as he would accelerate away from his marker into space further up the wing and his first touch was impressive. He was able to control long high balls with relative ease which made him a constant option on diagonal passes from defence. He worked hard up and down the line and pressed well with his fullback to deny the opposition space in wide areas.

He was a threat to Cardiff during this game but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. If he was to refine his end product he would be a particularly dangerous attacker in the Championship and perhaps at higher levels.

Rating – B1

Illan Meslier

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 2/3/2000
  • Club: Leeds United
  • Career: FC Lorient, Leeds United (L)
  • Position: Goal Keeper
  • Preferred foot: Left

Meslier started his second Championship game in this match and will perhaps feel a disappointed to have twice. Cardiff produced two shots on target in the game, both of which were good strikes and gave Meslier little chance to save them. He was perhaps caught a little bit flat footed for the opening goal but you couldn’t attribute much blame to him for that. Apart from the two goals he saw little action in terms of actual goalkeeping as Leeds retained the ball for a lot of the game.

His distribution was good throughout the game, he played short more often than not to his centre backs but his passes pushed them into good areas and allowed them the make a positive move after receiving. He was comfortable on the ball when put under pressure by attackers and showed good footwork to move the ball into better positions for himself. He was able to beat the press with some good sharp passes to his defenders which gave them time on the ball and he also demonstrated his ability to play accurate long balls into feet and got attacking moves started with some quick throws. He was always willing to receive the ball, made good angles for passes and was a good option for his teammates if they were under pressure.

Positionally, he was sound, he was confident on coming to collect aerial balls and his defenders trusted him with that, he was quite high up in possession so he could help with the play and he was quick to get back into position if the opposition got the ball.

Without seeing anything of his goalkeeping ability it’s hard to judge him properly but his distribution was high quality in this game and at 6’4″ he is a presence in the box.

Rating – B1

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