Western Sydney Wanderers will make their long-awaited return to their spiritual home at Parramatta, with proud English club Leeds United the opponents on an historic night in Sydney’s west.
After three seasons without a regular home ground, the Wanderers will christen the new and improved Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
It’s the beginning of a new dawn for the Hyundai A-League club, who are looking to re-establish themselves as a force in the competition under German mentor Markus Babbel.
It won’t only be the unveiling of a new stadium but also a new-look squad with as many as five fresh recruits set to be unleashed against the English Championship powerhouses.
For Leeds United, the trip Down Under – which also includes a clash against Manchester United on Wednesday night – is the start of another gruelling campaign they hope will finally result in promotion back to the promised land, the Premier League.
So, while this may just be a pre-season friendly, there is plenty at stake for both sides on what is set to be a night to remember in the first-ever football match at Bankwest Stadium.
Wanderers team news
The Wanderers have had a few weeks of pre-season training under their belt to prepare for their clash against the English Championship outfit.
They will only play one behind-closed-doors friendly before Saturday night’s clash, which is likely to determine who Markus Babbel goes with for his starting XI.
The German boss has named a 24-man squad for the Leeds clash, including all five of his new recruits.
The likes of Pirmin Schwegler, Daniel Lopar and Daniel Georgievski should be involved from the start, although Radoslaw Majewski may be restricted to limited minutes after only arriving in Australia last week.
Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic and midfielder Jordan O’Doherty won’t be involved due to injuries.
Leeds team news
Last season’s beaten Championship playoff semi-finalists have brought 16 players with them for their two-game tour Down Under.
Leeds will take on Manchester United in Perth on Wednesday night before switching their focus to taking on the Wanderers in Sydney.
With such a small squad on tour, it should ensure Bielsa will pick his strongest 11 for both matches, especially with the start of the Championship season just a few weeks away.
Ex-Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, 2018/19 top goalscorer Kemar Roofe, former Premier League striker Patrick Bamford and Spanish playmaker Pablo Hernandez are the headline players in the squad.
Adam Forshaw, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Harrison, who scored two goals in their 5-0 win over York City on Thursday, are also part of the travelling party.
They said it
Leeds United captain Liam Cooper
“Pre-season has been hard, the boys have come back in good shape though and stuck to their individual programmes in the off season.
“We all know it is tough mentally and physically, but the lads at this club all keep each other going and drag each other through it and that is the mentality we have.
“Pre-season is not about coming back unfit to get fit now, you have to come back at a reasonable level of fitness to peak for the first game of the season.”
Western Sydney Wanderers playmaker Radoslaw Majewski
“Leeds just started their pre-season so it’ll probably be a mix of their younger and more experienced players.
“What they can expect from us, they can see us. New stadium, first game and it’s our opportunity to show some good signs.
“It’s also a chance to say welcome to the fans and I hope that they come in numbers this season. I hope that everybody comes on Saturday just to say to hello to us and the team.”
Western Sydney Wanderers v Leeds United
Date: Saturday, 20 July 2019
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 7pm AEST