Leeds United head into their first high profile pre-season game against Borussia Monchengladbach tomorrow off the back of their first defeat.
The Whites had previously recorded victories against non-league sides Harrogate Town, Guiseley and North Ferriby United back home, but were beaten 3-0 by Turkish club Bursaspor in a hastily arranged friendly staged in Italy on Monday night.
Thomas Christiansen’s side are in a training camp in Austria and intended to play Ingolstadt on Sunday before that game was cancelled because of safety fears in the town of Kufstein.
They went to the Italian town of Natz-Schabs instead after Bursaspor agreed to a training game and it proved a handy work-out if not entirely successful on the pitch with United losing to a team that finished two points above the Turkish League’s relegation zone last season.
Bursaspor were ahead from the 11th minute with William Troost-Ekong’s header and it stayed 1-0 to half-time as Stuart Dallas saw his effort ruled out for offside and Kemar Roofe, Euan O’Kane, Pablo Hernandez and Kalvin Phillips all missed good chances.
Leeds made nine changes to their team for the second half, with only goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and centre-back Liam Cooper staying on. New boys Samuel Sáiz, Ezgjan Allioski and Caleb Ekuban got some game time and more chances were created and not taken before Tomas Necid’s header extended Bursaspor’s lead.
Bursaspor added a third goal when Sinan Bakıs found the corner of the net after dribbling the ball into the area.
Marcus Antonsson had two late chances, but could not convert them and there were a few lessons for the new look team to learn.
Borussia Monchengladbach are next up and on their name alone are the biggest by far of Leeds’ pre-season opponents.
While improving the players’ match fitness is the main aim of the fixture it will be a feather in United’s cap if they can beat their well known German opponents.
Monchengladbach, like Leeds once a European force, are still a top flight team in their country, finishing ninth in the Bundesliga last season and playing in the Champions League.
Their players are a little behind United’s in that they have been only been training for two weeks, but they are expected to provide a true test and give Christiansen plenty of pointers as to where his squad are at ahead of the season proper.
Christiansen’s only major fitness concern is recent signing Mateusz Klich, who travelled to the Austrian training camp with a muscle strain and has been put through running sessions as he aims to get fit.
Samuel Saiz, Caleb Ekuban and Ezgjan Alioski are all expected to be given their first public run-outs in a Leeds shirt while Chris Wood played his first pre-season game in the first half of Monday’s training match and will be aiming to step up further against Borussia.