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The Championship is back and so are Leeds United.
Huge fanbase. Huge expectation. A manager who has had huge success at this level. New ownership looking to right the wrongs of what came before. The club themselves are enough to get people racing to their seats to see what happens next.
Their visitors are Cardiff City who have gone through a peculiar summer. The Emiliano Sala case has rumbled on, forced a transfer embargo that has since been lifted and allowed them to bring in quality players such as Josh Bowler, Karlan Grant and the return of wonderkid-turned-great Aaron Ramsey. However, they have an unfamiliar face in the dugout in Erol Bulut and you can never be too sure of what will happen next under Vincent Tan.
This has the hallmarks of a classic opening day encounter with the visitors looking to quieten a vociferous home crowd who will be hoping to see immediate goods returned on their investment in Daniel Farke. With so much new about both clubs, we’ve broken down the teams to bring you Leeds vs Cardiff bet builder tips.
LEEDS VS CARDIFF PREDICTED LINEUPS
Farke quick to bring about change
Daniel Farke was appointed relatively late in the summer so has had to work quick to get things moving in the right direction. He looks to have reinstalled young Frenchman Illan Meslier as first-choice goalkeeper, Daniel James is firmly back in the fold after a tough loan spell at Fulham while Jamie Shackleton, Leo Hjelde and Joe Gelhardt could also get the chance to impress after spells elsewhere. And Ethan Ampadu is the new face in the XI, the 22-year-old hoping to add promotion to a CV containing a few relegations now.
Boy wonder Ramsey to start the season for Cardiff
Of all the exciting names added to the Cardiff squad for the upcoming campaign, few bring about memories like Aaron Ramsey, the teenage sensation that left for Arsenal and went on to have a wonderful career. He will be joined by a couple of new faces in the XI, including forwards Ike Ugbo and Karlan Grant, as well as centre-back Dimitrios Goutas. The club continue to have an issue at left back where Callum O’Dowda is expected to fill in again.
LEEDS VS CARDIFF TEAM STATS
Leeds hoping for big change
Leeds United were a very, very bad football team last season. No side conceded more Premier League goals or accrued a higher xGA, the level of quality chances opponents were able to create against them, evidenced by them being mid-table for shots per 90 against. One of Daniel Farke’s most challenging tasks is to halt that. His Norwich City sides were excellent in the Championship, scoring over 90 and 70 goals in their two title victories and having the best xG in the league on both occasions.
Can Bulut bring some bite?
Cardiff were one of the most boring teams in the Championship last season. Their games had an average of 2.15 goals and 65% of matches saw less than 2.5 goals scored. They had little in the way of a defined style thanks to three separate managers taking the reins during the season and were relatively mid-to-lower table for most metrics. One thing that could be thrown at them is a bit of softness – no side conceded fewer fouls than Cardiff.
LEEDS VS CARDIFF PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bamford returns with a point to prove
Patrick Bamford is well-known to EFL fans and he returns to the second tier hoping to put behind a couple of tough years. The 29-year-old has pedigree. He scored 17 goals to help Middlesbrough to a top four finish and hit 16 the year Leeds United won promotion, following that up with 17 in the Premier League. Despite his difficulties in front of goal, he has still averaged just shy of three shots per 90 and over one shot on target per 90 minutes.
Sinisterra could leave fans staring
Luis Sinisterra will be hoping to use a year in England’s second tier to truly explode onto the English football scene and make a name for himself. The 24-year-old had a decent if inconsistent Premier League campaign but he was never shy to try and do more for the team, averaging over one shot on target from just shy of three shots per 90 minutes. He was also an aggressive presser, committing 1.46 fouls per 90 minutes and he is somebody worth keeping an eye on for your Leeds vs Cardiff bet builder.
Time for Struijk to step up
Pascal Struijk has been around the Leeds United first team for a few years now but has never truly felt like a fully-fledged first teamer, often filling in where others had left gaps – he has played centre back, left back and central midfield for the Yorkshire outfit. A return to the Championship could see the Belgian make a starting XI spot his own in the heart of defence. Key to that will be his willingness to play out from the back – he averaged 54.1 passes per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season.
Ramsey the star man for Cardiff
It’s impossible not to look at Aaron Ramsey as far as numbers are concerned for Cardiff City – he is absolutely going to be the man that everything goes through. Most interestingly, it’s his passing numbers that make sense to back if you are going to add Ramsey to your Leeds vs Cardiff bet builder – he averaged 61 passes for a mid-table Ligue 1 side last term and with extra minutes being played, he could be more than worth backing for 50 or more passes on Sunday given everybody will want to get him on the ball.
Oh no it’s Ojo, said the defender
Sheyi Ojo has been an infuriatingly inconsistent forward wherever he has been in his short career. The 26-year-old has never quite found a home despite moves from Liverpool to Wolves, Fulham, Reims, Rangers, Millwall and now Cardiff. Still, his ability is evident and at his best, he’s a player that takes the ball, runs at people and looks to make something happen. He averaged 1.96 shots per 90 last season and his danger is clearly known to opponents – he was fouled 2.15 times per 90.
Could Bulut get the best from Karlan Grant?
Karlan Grant is a very good player at this level but it’s been tough for him to find a home and position at Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich Albion. The big thing at Cardiff is that he is likely to be trusted to play most weeks and to stay in and around the opposition box. When he has played a lot of senior minutes, he has averaged around or over a shot on target per 90. Another stat that could interest you ahead of this encounter – he has been fouled between 0.9 and 1.26 times per 90 minutes in his last four campaigns.
LEEDS VS CARDIFF MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Ethan Ampadu vs Aaron Ramsey
A match-up that Welsh fans can’t wait to watch, I’m sure. In the white corner, Ethan Ampadu, the talented and tenacious youngster who should finally find a home at Leeds United while playing in the middle of midfield, where his qualities should shine more consistently. In the blue corner, Aaron Ramsey, a player who can run games at this level at half-pace if he chooses to, and somebody who will relish the battle with one of the next leader’s of Welsh football. Ampadu has averaged 1.81 and 1.5 fouls per 90 in his last two seasons while Ramsey has committed a foul per 90 himself in almost every season of football he has played.
Leo Hjelde vs Sheyi Ojo
It looks as if Leo Hjelde is going to be thrown into battle for Leeds United on opening day and it maybe isn’t that surprising – Farke has shown at Norwich that he’s not afraid to blood youngsters. Hjelde did get some good experience at Rotherham United last season and that period showed that he will give away a foul or two – he averaged 1.22 per 90 during his 13 appearances. Sheyi Ojo is a tricky customer to come up against on matchday one, fouled over twice per 90 and he will be tasked with carrying Cardiff up the field.
Cryscencio Summerville vs Ryan Wintle
Truth be told, this battle will be all about Dutch forward Summerville as opposed to his opponent. Ryan Wintle tends to avoid the battle, trying to tick the ball about nicely and leave others to do the rough and tumble. Summerville is unlikely to let that happen. The forward, who has been deployed as a ‘10’ in pre-season is a whirlwind of a footballer. He was fouled 2.59 times per 90 minutes last season while committing 1.39 fouls himself – Wintle may not have a choice but to get involved at some point.
LEEDS VS CARDIFF BET BUILDER TIPS AND PICKS OF THE PACK
We have put together an intriguing 3/1 Leeds vs Cardiff bet builder for your consideration but by all means adapt it to your liking with your very own picks of the pack.
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Leeds vs Cardiff
Ramsey averaged 1.25 shots per 90 last season.
Ramsey averaged at least 1.98 shots per 90 in five seasons where he played at least ten matches.
Cardiff will deploy Ramsey in a more attacking midfield role.
Sinisterra averaged just shy of three shots per 90 and over one shot on target per 90 last season.
Farke plays an attacking brand of football that should see Sinisterra get involved high up the pitch.
Ampadu has committed 1.81 and 1.5 fouls per 90 last two seasons.
Aaron Ramsey was fouled 1.02 times per 90 last season.
Hjelde committed an average of 1.22 fouls while playing left-back for Rotherham last season.
Sheyi Ojo is fouled over twice per 90 minutes by opponents.