Derby County vs Leeds United preview: Whites look to celebrate title in style
(Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Leeds United will walk out at Pride Park on Sunday afternoon as Championship champions following results elsewhere this weekend - marking the end of their 16-year wait to return to the Premier League. The pressure will be off Marcelo Bielsa's side, but rivalry built with Derby County last season may lead to a fiery display from both sides, following the infamous 'Spygate'.

Derby are condemned to another season in the Championship, and despite a good second half of the season, they couldn't claw back enough points to push for a play-off spot.

  • Team news

Both Martyn Waghorn and Duane Holmes both can return to the Derby side to face Leeds on Sunday. Waghorn has finished his three-game ban for his sending-off in the Midlands derby with Nottingham Forest. Holmes returns from his short lay-off, after missing the previous two fixtures due to a minor hamstring problem. Jack Marriott is hoping to make an impact; the striker returned against Cardiff City, coming off the bench in the second half.

Leeds' Kalvin Phillips is out of the rest of the season, and won't feature again. Helder Costa is a doubt after coming off via a stretcher in the win against Barnsley on Thursday evening. Pablo Hernandez will be hoping to play a bigger role than on Thursday. The midfield veteran came on at half-time, but was substituted in the final few minutes.

  • Managers/players thoughts

Speaking to RamsTV ahead of the fixture, Derby manager Phillip Cocu says he wants bravery from his side:

“We want to put on a good performance against a very strong side. Leeds deserve to be where they are in the table; they have good structure in the team, quality players, can dominate in their performance and defend well.

“It will be a tough game, but we want to end the season well and we will push to get good results in these last two matches.

“We always use our saying ‘never give up’. The play-offs may not be within reach, but it doesn’t mean we can switch off and relax at all.

"We must show no fear and have bravery to play, and also know what we can and can’t do in certain stages of the game.”

Leeds captain Liam Cooper spoke to LUTV following the news that the Whites had secured the title:

“This wasn’t in the plan, we expected both teams (West Bromwich Albion & Brentford) to win every game.

“We thought we’d get together and watch the game, not expecting this at all.

“I’m absolutely delighted, this club has been in the doldrums for 16 years and to be part of the club and this group of players in honestly unbelievable.”

He was keen to thank his fellow players for all of their hard work, as well as the supporters, who can finally watch their team again in the Premier League next season.

“The hard work which goes in every single day has been hard, but these boys have been unbelievable backed by our amazing fans.

“Everyday is unbelievable, we learn so much and from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to the club and these boys.

“This group doesn’t know the meaning of giving up and I’m so pleased for all of them.

“This smile is going to take some wiping off my face.”

  • Head-to-head

The newly (to be) crowned Champions hold the better record throughout the history of the fixture.

Leeds' record vs Derby County

Games won:57

Games drawn:29

Games lost:38

This season, in the reverse fixture, the sides played out a stalemate 1-1 draw. An own-goal from Max Lowe placed Leeds into the lead, but a 91st minute equaliser from Chris Martin sent Derby into raptures, and breaking Leeds' hearts.

Ultimately, the two sides are firmly placed together due to 'Spygate'. It emerged Whites manager Marcelo Bielsa was 'spying' on his opposition, after Leeds' attempt at 007, was caught at Derby's training complex gathering behind-the-scenes information on then-manager Frank Lampard and his side.

  • How to watch

The fixture will be available to all Sky Sports customers via the Sky Sports Football channel. It will also be accessible to fans via each clubs own in-house channel.

  • Prediction

I expect there will be a rather large hangover from the Leeds players, following their promotion celebrations. Similar to the dip in results seen from Liverpool (following their own celebrations) I can see form slipping from Leeds. Derby will want to put a small dent in the Leeds celebrations - and I expect they will want to finish the season as strong as possible.

Prediction: Derby County 2-1 Leeds United

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