After last season, Karanka & Middlesbrough players will fear Bamba & Silvestri

The Leeds duo were outstanding at the Riverside Stadium last term. Can they reproduce that form this time around?

Ahead of this Sunday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Leeds United, the formbooks and odds all favour the hosts.

After eight league games, the Whites have done relatively well, accumulating 11 points and sitting in 10th place.

It's just that Middlesbrough are six points better off - and sit second, only three points off top.

But, ahead of the same fixture last season, it was the same story. Boro were the form side and Leeds went to the Riverside as heavy underdogs. United duly left the Riverside with all three points, after an early Alex Mowatt strike was followed up by a masterful defensive performance.

And Leeds had two men in particular to thank that day - two men Middlesbrough may well be fearful of this time around.

  PositionTeamHeadersTacklesInterceptionsClearancesMinutes Played
Sol Bamba DF Leeds 5 3 3 14 90
Giuseppe Bellusci DF Leeds 2 4 7 17 89
  SavesMinutes Played
Marco Silvestri 10 90

Indeed, as Opta stats show, Sol Bamba and Marco Silvestri were immense at Boro. Giuseppe Bellusci also impressed but it was the other two that made the biggest impression.

Italian Silvestri made no less than 10 saves, two or three of them absolutely world class. Bamba, meanwhile, led from the back and, as permanent Leeds captain this season, will go to Middlesbrough with even more confidence this time around.

There may well be a psychological edge in the duo starting. Aitor Karanka simply looked on in disbelief as Silvestri made save after save and his Ivorian centre-back made some unbelievable goal-line clearances.

Of course, Uwe Rosler's style of play is far different from Neil Redfearn's and it's unclear as to whether he can - or will even try to - put in such a defensive display. But, everytime the hosts go forward against Leeds, even with the likes of Stewart Downing in their ranks, they may have last season's failure to break the United defence in the back of their minds.

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