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Preview: Leeds United face Bursaspor in fourth friendly of pre-season
Monday, 17th Jul 2017 15:22 by @LucasMonk_

In their fourth outing of pre-season, Leeds United will continue their preparations ahead of the new season by contesting the first of a trinity of friendlies to be played in Austria - Thomas Christiansen’s charges face Turkish side Bursaspor this evening (17:00 GMT).

This fixture was hastily arranged in the wake of the cancellation of Leeds’ proposed meeting with Ingolstadt, with United head coach Thomas Christiansen intent on preparing for an arduous Championship campaign suitably.

Managed by Paul Le Guen, Bursaspor finished 14th in the Turkish Super Lig last season and their squad boasts an array of esteemed internationals - among them, Romania’s prized attacker Bodgan Stancu.

The Green Crocodiles - as they are colloquially known in their native Turkey - represent an altogether different proposition to the sides United have already dispatched in their current pre-season campaign. Harrogate Town, Guiseley and North Ferriby United were comprehensively defeated at the hands of Leeds but this match shall serve as the first indication of how the Whites may fare in the forthcoming season.

United fans will also be presented with an opportunity to observe a deluge of the club’s recent acquisitions; Vurnon Anita, Ezgjan Alioski and Samu Saiz are but just a few of several new captures vying to impress Thomas Christiansen ahead of the first league fixture of the new Championship campaign away to Bolton.

For Christiansen himself, the primary concerns are ones of fitness and preparation. The expectant Dane has been keen to impress upon the Leeds players the importance of pre-season training and has insisted that they be close to optimum physical condition come the conclusion of the Austria tour.

Leeds United Key Man: Samu Saiz

After several weeks of incessant speculation, the 26-year-old Spanish attacker penned a four-year contract at Elland Road after playing an instrumental role for Huesca in Spain’s Segunda Division. The former Atletico Madrid prodigy scored 12 goals while laying on another eight for his teammates, making him the subject of tangible interest on the part of SD Eibar and Real Betis. Such was United’s desire to secure his signature, that a fee in the region of £3,000,000 was paid to bring the playmaker to England. Possessed an ingenious creative spark, in addition to a keen eye for goal, Saiz will be hopeful of impressing on his first outing in Leeds colours.

Bursaspor Key Man: Bodgan Stancu

Valued at £1,700,000, Stancu’s stock rose considerably last summer after a 2015-16 season that saw him 10 league goals for Genclerbiligi in addition to appearing for Romania at the European Championships in France. Since then, the centre-forward’s form has dwindled - but the hopes of many a Bursaspor fan rest upon the 29-year-old rediscovering his potency in front of goal. Now fighting for his future at the club following an underwhelming campaign for himself and his teammates, Stancu will doubtless be keen to showcase his talents this evening.

Prediction: Leeds United 1-1 Bursaspor

I believe there not to be a gulf of quality that sets the two sides apart. As a team from Turkey’s top-flight, Bursaspor will offer a stern test of United’s abilities; but Leeds are most certainly capable of holding their own against the one-time Super Lig winners.

Photo: Action Images

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