'Leeds are not underdogs' - Jansson fired up for Championship play-offs

Pontus Jansson Leeds United 2018-19
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The defender feels Marcelo Bielsa's side deserve to be favourites for promotion to the Premier League after finishing third in the table

Leeds United centre-back Pontus Jansson says he cannot understand why some people are doubting his team’s status as the favourites heading into their play-off semi-final against Derby County.

The Whites finished the regular Championship season in third place, six points off second-placed Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United, who were automatically promoted to the Premier League, and three points above fellow play-off contenders West Brom.

A run of three defeats in four games, including a final-day loss at bottom side Ipswich Town, has led some to label Leeds as underdogs in the play-offs, but Jansson has questioned this tag, saying: “Underdogs?

“I cannot understand how you see us as underdogs when we are third in the table and beaten them (Derby) twice.

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“Going into the play-offs as the third team, you should be favourites, if you ask me.

“We know that we are good, as we say it’s been a tough month for us but that gives us more motivation to be extra motivated to go into this play-offs.

“So, you can see us as underdogs if you want but no, not in our world.

“It has been a positive year for us, apart from this last month we’ve had some bad results. Apart from that it has been a fantastic year, now we just have to write the last chapter of it. We have to start on Saturday.”

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Leeds take on the Rams at Pride Park on Saturday in the first leg, and will have the confidence of knowing that they have beaten Derby twice already this season, although their win at Elland Road in January was overshadowed by the controversial ‘Spygate’ scandal.

In the other Championship play-off semi-final, it is a West Midlands derby as Aston Villa take on West Brom at home in Saturday’s first leg.

Villa go into the game on the back of a 2-1 loss to league winners Norwich, but pushed the Canaries all the way in that game, while West Brom also come in off the back of a loss, as they were hammered 3-1 by Derby on the last day of the season.