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‘Huge game for them’: Leicester boss Maresca assesses importance of Leeds United clash

A top of the table Championship clash between first-placed Leicester City and second-placed Leeds United awaits on Friday evening, a game which could prove to have significant implications on the league standings come the season’s end.

With table-topping Leicester currently sitting nine points ahead of Friday’s hosts, a victory for the Whites would reduce the gap to just six, putting the Foxes – and the Championship top spot they occupy – within a more realistic distance to be caught before the campaign finishes.

A win for Enzo Maresca’s side, however, would put them 12 points ahead and put Leeds at risk of sinking as far as fourth in the league table were the teams in the chasing pack – Southampton and Ipswich Town – to win both of their games over the weekend.

In many ways, then, Friday evening’s contest appears to represent the very definition of a promotion six-pointer – with much of the pre-match coverage of the match during this week emphasising the importance of the game for both teams involved.

Maresca downplays importance of Leeds United clash and the Elland Road crowd

This sentiment is not one shared by Foxes’ boss Maresca however, who claims that whilst the clash does have increased significance for his managerial counterpart Daniel Farke and his side, it is not a contest which he views as holding any additional importance than any other.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Maresca said: “It’s a huge, huge, huge game for them. For us, it’s one more game.

“For us, it’s also a huge game, but for them even more because they are nine points behind us. This is the only reason.”

Despite Leeds’ impressive home record this season – the Whites currently stand unbeaten on their own turf, a feat unmatched by even record-breaking Leicester – Maresca went on to dismiss the importance of the Elland Road crowd in Friday night’s contest.

“The last time I was there we won with [Manchester] City. So they can lose at home.

“I don’t know. They said the environment is very good. That is true, but the fans are not going to win the game. It’s 11 vs 11.”

Maresca wrong on both counts

There is no doubt that the match at Elland Road on Friday is of great importance not just for Leeds but for Leicester too, despite Maresca’s claims to the contrary.

Of course, there is a certain wisdom in the former Manchester City man’s choice to downplay the significance of the fixture in order to relieve the amount of pressure his players will undoubtedly be feeling before heading out into a ferocious atmosphere in West Yorkshire under the Elland Road lights.

Whilst in an ideal world the noise created by a sold-out stadium of dedicated home fans would have no impact on the performance of his side, any follower of football knows this just isn’t reality. A football match doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and there is no doubt that Leeds’ passionate fanbase will turn out in force on Friday night to provide all the help their side needs to get over the line against the Foxes.

Maresca is wrong on both counts then, and Farke, his players and the Whites fanbase would do well to not get sucked into any mind games his comments may generate before kick-off on Friday evening.

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