Derby County manager Frank Lampard has told The Telegraph how his side are underdogs against playoff opponents Leeds United.
The Rams secured sixth spot on the final day of the Championship season, beating West Bromwich Albion 3-1. They pipped both Middlesbrough and Bristol City who fell just short.
Derby’s two-legged playoff semi-final opponents are old rivals Leeds United. The Whites finished nine points clear of the Rams, despite losing three of their past four games.
Lampard’s side head into the clash as the in-form team, but the Derby manager warns of his opponents’ ability as he claims Leeds should be deemed favourites to reach Wembley.
Our run-in has pushed us into sixth place, but we mustn’t forget they have beaten us twice and finished above us in the league. We focus on ourselves and we’ll be ready. I think we’re underdogs, that’s a challenge that we’ll have to accept and take on.
Who has the edge – Derby County or Leeds United?
Leeds have the edge on Derby in terms of past meetings in the league. Marcelo Bielsa’s side won 4-1 at Pride Park last August, before completing the double over the Rams with a 2-0 victory at Elland Road.
The events of Spygate dominated the return fixture at Elland Road. Derby were incensed that Bielsa sent scouts to watch Derby train ahead of the game. Leeds were ultimately fined £200,000 for their troubles, which Bielsa himself paid.
But that seemingly won’t be an issue this time around. Derby have improved since their January defeat to Leeds, and in their last four home games they’ve scored an impressive 15 goals. The Whites, meanwhile, suffered defeats to struggling Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town in their run-in.
Derby host Leeds in the first leg, and they must look to secure a decent advantage for the second leg. The two games promise to be full of energy, determination and passion. May the best team advance to the final.