Manchester United midfielder Fred has labelled his club’s rivalry with Leeds United as the English equivalent of Spain’s El Clasico.
The two clubs have a storied history, featuring several great clashes. The rivalry enjoyed one of its best spells in the 1990s and in the early years of the new millennium, with both clubs amongst the best in England. Leeds suffered a sharp downward spiral in 2004, though, with the teams meeting only twice more before this season.
Nevertheless, the Whites secured a dream return to the top flight last term under boss Marcelo Bielsa.
As such, the clash against United was one of the most eagerly-anticipated games, despite the lack of fans.
The empty Old Trafford ground did not hamper the game, though, with the Red Devils winning 6-2 in an all-out thriller.
The sides meet again at Elland Road on Sunday, with Brazil midfielder Fred making comparisons with the infamous meetings between Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga.
Asked if he feels fired up for the match, the 28-year-old told manutd.com: “Definitely, it’s an English football clasico. We get a feel for this anticipation from social media.
“The fans are excited about this game, as are we of course. We haven’t had a midweek game this week, so the anticipation for the next game increases and it’s a derby game against a massive rival.
“It’ll be a really tough game but we’ll be preparing well for it this week.”
Fred’s fellow midfielder Scott McTominay stole the headlines in his side’s 6-2 win over Leeds in December.
The Scotland international scored the earliest brace in Premier League history, netting both goals within the first three minutes.
Bruno Fernandes added two more, with Daniel James and Victor Lindelof also on the scoresheet.
In response, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas – who has also scored against Manchester City – hit back for Leeds.
Fred sends Man Utd, Leeds message
Asked if it was United‘s best performance of the season, Fred said: “I don’t know if it was our best performance of the season, [but] 6-2 was a great result of course.
“I think we’ve had better performances this season.
“Scott’s two goals very early on helped us to control the game, but they’re very difficult opponents playing with such high intensity, they’re very strong and always looking to attack.
“We’re prepared for this, we know how they play and we’ll aim to be at our very best to get the win.”
United head into the match off the back of five straight wins in all competitions.