Leeds United 1 Borussia Monchengladbach 1
(Ayling 2, Herrmann 47)
Before I say anything about the match, I should just mention the whole Austria tour, or at least my Austria tour. I have to admit that despite all the changes to the schedule and the consequences for my own schedule and pocket in making cancellations and new flights, I still enjoyed my six days out in Germany and Austria.
I flew out with a good buddy of mine (who prefers to remain anonymous!) and we landed in Munich early on Sunday morning. We then spent the day sightseeing in the German city and managed to “do” the impressive BMW museum and a walk through the Olympic Park. On Monday we managed to fit in a wander around the old town of Marienplatz; a visit to the magnificent Palace of Nymphenburg; and a tour of the Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich, Tuesday, I made a trip to Dachau to pay homage to the many thousands who suffered there. Wednesday saw us hiring a car and travelling out to Salzburg where we bought tickets for the Red Bull Salzburg Champions League qualifier against Hibernians of Malta. That was a great experience, spending the entire game joining in the chanting in the middle of the home end! Red Bull won the game 3 – 0, going through 6 – 0 on aggregate.
Leeds had been in action on Monday of course, suffering a 3 – 0 defeat to a decent Turkish side, Borsaspor behind closed doors. Whilst out in Germany and Austria we heard many tales of taxi loads of Leeds fans travelling far and wide trying to gate-crash that match without success!
And so to Thursday;
Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi
Alioski, Hernandez, Roofe
I travelled down to Schwaz from Munich by train, a journey of a couple of hours and arrived around noon. We went straight to the ground to make sure we got tickets as there was a rumour it was limited to 1,800 and we had no idea how many Leeds fans would be trying to get in. The ground was still locked up though and we were first told to go back at 12:30 and then one o’clock, so we adjourned to a nearby terrace bar! Several of my mates from the Shropshire Whites were there and the beer was soon flowing and there was a great atmosphere as we worked our way through several pints of Steigl whilst soaking up the sun. By the time I got into the ground I have to say I was more than a little merry!
The Schwaz ground can hold 3,000 apparently, but the side allocated to Leeds wasn’t really geared up for us. There was a temporary bar which was fine and we could drink and watch the football such is the relaxed way the Germans do their sport. But one portaloo for the lads and one for the lasses present wasn’t really sufficient! The lads used a skip behind the ground until the stewards spotted us and then that was roped off; we then organised a “two by two” approach for the portaloo to try to get the queues down… well, it did have a wash-basin as well as the bog!
Leeds rushed into a one goal lead when Luke Ayling slotted the ball across goal into the far corner and it was a decent game played with pace despite the heat; the promised rain storm not materialising until just after the final whistle. Leeds had several other good chances in the first half and it was just something to worry about as the season proper looms on the horizon that we missed them all. A Kalvin Phillips free kick rattled the crossbar but that was as close as we got. Gaetano Berardi took a knock and was replaced by Vurnon Anita at half-time and new boy Pennington replaced Pontus Jansson but the rest returned for the second half as TC moved them on towards a full 90 minutes for the first time.
The Leeds lead only lasted 2 minutes into the new half, as Alioski brought his man down and Herrmann the German curled the free kick in. More chances came and went for Leeds but as yet our finishing is as erratic as we saw for much of last season. We need to find our shooting boots.
On 63 minutes Leeds made wholesale changes and by the end of the game the side looked like this:
Gomes, Pennington, Shaughnessy, Anita
Dallas, Saiz, Sacko
It looked that way to me anyway; Christiansen seemingly preferring our largely successful 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation again for this campaign. There are still lots of options of course and many questions; will it be Green or Wiedwald in goal? Who will partner Pontus once his suspension is completed during the first week of the season – Cooper or Pennington. Will it be Hernandez or maybe Saiz in the number 10 role? Which two out of Dallas, Sacko, Alioski, Doukara and Roofe will play the wide roles? Two weeks remain for Christiansen to play all the permutations but surely he’ll try to get his first choice out for the Oxford game next week – that should answer most of the questions.