Former Leeds United star fires Southampton 'quality' warning ahead of play-off final

Fans ahead of the Championship play-off final
-Credit: (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Former Leeds United left-back Ian Harte has hailed what is set to be an 'exciting spectacle' at Wembley Stadium this afternoon as the Whites take on Southampton in the Championship play-off final.

Daniel Farke's side have managed to do things the hard way this season, having closed what was a 17-point gap to league leaders Leicester City down to just a handful as the end of the season loomed. However, a torrid run of just two wins in their last eight games meant a third-place finish after Ipswich Town secured utomatic promotion on the final day.

Now, it means they'll be facing Southampton in what is sure to be a fascinating Wembley matchup this afternoon, a team that they've not yet managed to beat this season having lost 2-1 at home and 3-1 away. However, Leeds can win for the first time at the new Wembley Stadium to take all the marbles in their first attempt to get back into the top flight.

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Ahead of the match, Farke has told his players to simply 'keep calm' in the face of a nervous crowd of more than 36,000 Leeds supporters attending the game. He said: "We know this is a massive game and a decisive game. It is a final and because of that you are always a little bit more focused and concentrated, but it is also important to stay calm and find a good balance. It is just football.

"We are highly motivated just like our opponents, but we are looking forward to have this game. It's a massive chance and anything can happen. It's a massive chance to get promoted back to the Premier League at the first chance."

Speaking to OffshorePokerSites, former Leeds star Harte previewed the clash and gave his thoughts on how both sides will go up against each other. He said: "I think that the two teams are two exciting teams, who play some exciting football. They have got players that can hurt you as well so it's going to be an exciting game. I'm looking forward to watching it.

"I think it's going to be one of those games when it just probably comes down to who's going to be clinical on the day. I don't think what has happened in the semi-finals makes any difference. I think, the pressure obviously comes on the walk into Wembley.

"There’s not much of a difference between the two teams because you're looking at Leeds as a Premier League squad and Southampton have a Premier League squad as well. Both teams will be obviously chomping at the bit to get promoted and it's just who's going to be calm on the day, and who's going to be clinical.

"Southampton like to play out from the back sometimes you think it's so risky, it could take just one misplaced pass for them to concede. Leeds have got so much quality in attacking areas with Dan James, Willy Gnonto, Patrick Bamford Georginio Rutter and Crycensio Summerville.

"But then, obviously, Southampton have Che Adams up top with Adam Armstrong and with Leeds when they're attacking, they push that many players on that sometimes they leave themselves a little bit vulnerable at the back as well. Southampton won at Elland Road and Leeds had a strong team out as well. So it's going to be an exciting game. I'm looking forward to watching it.

"I'm glad I'm not playing in it because when I've played at Wembley, it's not been great for me, but now it's going to be an exciting spectacle!"