Scotland recently made history after their mammoth win over Serbia put them through to EUR) 2020 – their first elite men’s tournament qualification in 23 years. The nation celebrated as Ryan Christie delivered an emotional post-match speech and the Tartan Army relished in their hard work.
Seemingly with their success still on their mind and with some tired legs and minds, Scotland were snubbed of a win in the Nations League on Sunday. Opponents Slovakia proved to be the better side after a goal from Jan Gregus snuck through to bank the win for the home side. However, despite the loss, Scotland, and indeed Leeds, will be proud of the shift that Liam Cooper put in for his country.
Although the Scots were caught out at the back, Cooper was the strongest cog in Steve Clarke’s defensive machine last night. According to Sofascore, he earned the best rating out of Scotland’s defenders with an impressive 7.5. The Leeds ace completed 75% of his attempted duels and made four successful tackles and interceptions. Cooper also contributed 5/10 accurate long balls and drew a foul, proving to be a handful in an attacking sense forwards as well as in the defence.
The loss may have disheartened the player but Cooper put in a superb display that Marcelo Bielsa will have been watching closely. Leeds are in a sticky situation in the Premier League at the moment and the Argentinian needs all the players he can rely on to help claw back their form.
Jack Collins recently waxed lyrical about the Whites man, lauding him as a “crucial” asset to Bielsa’s side during a recent episode of the Ranks FC Podcast. Indeed, Cooper has captained his side on three occasions this season but was curiously dropped for three league matches.
The Whites are struggling with their defence and Bielsa must ensure he is fielding the strongest eleven he possibly can. After performing so well for his country against Slovakia and Israel, he has surely cemented his place in the Leeds line up as they prepare to face Arsenal in their next challenge.