Marcelo Bielsa

How have Leeds fared in pre-season?

Tuesday 10 August 2021 10:00

Manchester United’s 2021/22 Premier League season kicks off on Saturday, as we host Leeds United in a mouthwatering clash at Old Trafford.

The Reds go into the first home league meeting with the Whites in front of fans since February 2004 after a largely positive pre-season, bookended by wins over Derby County and Everton.

But how have Marcelo Bielsa’s side fared over the summer?

Unlike United, who have remained at home with four friendlies happening around training camps in Surrey and Scotland, the Yorkshire club did venture abroad, taking on Ajax in the Netherlands.

Their preparations got underway 10 miles down the road at Guiseley, though, when a youthful side managed by Under-23s’ coach Mark Jackson overcame the National League North outfit 3-2 on 27 July.

90 in 20: United 6 Leeds 2 Video

90 in 20: United 6 Leeds 2

Enjoy the extended highlights of December’s superb 6-2 win over our rivals from Yorkshire…

The first team, featuring left-back Junior Firpo – a new signing from Barcelona – then battled to a 1-1 draw at Blackburn the following day, with defender Pascal Struijk heading home a late equaliser.

Leeds’ Under-23s were in action again on 30 July, losing 2-1 at Fleetwood, before a stronger line-up entertained Real Betis of La Liga at Loughborough University the next day.

The Whites were virtually at full-strength, barring the absence of England’s Euro 2020 star Kalvin Phillips, but lost a close encounter 3-2 despite Patrick Bamford’s sixth-minute opener, as goals from Aitor Ruibal, Borja Iglesias and Youssouf Sabaly rendered Mateusz Klich’s later individual effort incidental.

A trip to Amsterdam was next on the cards, with two games taking place on 4 August. A Leeds XI featuring senior names Liam Cooper, Helder Costa, Adam Forshaw, Phillips and Tyler Roberts fell to a 3-1 defeat at De Toekomst Arena.

The four-time European champions then put the Whites to the sword at a packed Johan Cruyff Arena, with former Red Daley Blind featuring for the home side in a 4-0 win.

Leeds’ pre-season campaign, like United’s, came to a close on Saturday, as they hosted our Europa League final foes Villarreal in York.

Robin Koch’s own goal after nine seconds ensured a nightmare start, but Klich and Bamford responded before Dani Raba levelled the scores in the 81st minute.

Perhaps Bielsa’s starting XI - Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Struijk, Cooper, Dallas, Klich, Harrison, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Bamford - will provide some sort of clue as to how Leeds will line up in M16 on Saturday, but of course it’s important not to take pre-season results too seriously.


W 3-2 v Guiseley (A)
D 1-1 v Blackburn (A)
L 2-1 v Fleetwood (A)
L 3-2 v Real Betis (N)
L 3-1 v Ajax XI (A)
L 4-0 v Ajax (A)
D 2-2 v Villarreal (N)