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The Chalkboard: Why a fourth-place finish wouldn’t be the end of the world for Leeds

A few weeks ago Leeds United looked to be favourites to finish in second in the Championship table.

However, heading into the final game of the season finishing in fourth is a real possibility for the Whites, but that may not be the end of the world.

On the chalkboard

With Derby County drawing against Swansea on Wednesday night their spot in the playoffs is now up in the air as they travel to the Hawthorns on the final day of the season.

For Leeds to finish fourth they would have to lose against Ipswich and West Brom would need to beat Derby. Which would leave the door open for Boro to sneak into the playoffs as they travel to already relegated Rotherham.

The Whites come up against Ipswich Town on Sunday, and they will have to lose that game if they are to finish fourth, but that may be the preferable route if West Brom and Middlesbrough both win.

Avoid Middlesbrough at all costs

Playing Tony Pulis’ side over two legs would be the worst outcome possible for Marcelo Bielsa.

Of all the teams in the running for the playoffs, Boro are the only side the Whites have been unable to beat all season, their systems clash in a way that favours the north-east club.

Middlesbrough’s defensive resilience can frustrate Leeds no end. Patrick Bamford will be missing for the first leg so their attacking threat will already be reduced and on top of this, they have been the most wasteful team in the league in recent weeks.

If the Whites are to win in the playoffs, they will have to create chance after chance and against Boro that will be almost impossible.

Finishing fourth would set up a semi-final clash with Aston Villa, a team who Leeds have extra motivation to beat after their last meeting.

On top of this Bielsa knows how to nullify the Midlands club’s main threat. Jack Grealish had an incredibly quiet game the last time the two sides met as Kalvin Phillips didn’t allow him to play his own game.

The likely scenario is that Leeds finish third and if Derby end up in the playoffs on Sunday that would be their preferred matchup.

Though if this weekend plays out in a way that leaves the Whites in fourth it may be favourable if it means avoiding Middlesbrough.

Article title: The Chalkboard: Why a fourth-place finish wouldn’t be the end of the world for Leeds

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