It should have been a brilliant weekend for football fans. The sun is out and we’re right at the business end of the season with plenty to decide at the top and bottom of the Championship table.
But the coronavirus pandemic has seen the Championship suspend all games for the foreseeable future, including Stoke City’s planned fixture against promotion-chasing Leeds United, which should have been this afternoon.
But just because Stoke can’t play the game in real-life, we thought we’d play the game for them on the virtual pitch.
So, what could have happened? Well, we used FIFA 20 to find out.
Leeds United vs Stoke City score predicted by FIFA 20
To set up this simulation, we used kick-off mode on FIFA 20 but didn’t select a team to control; we then selected the teams and watched the match play out by itself, to give us a unique prediction.
The AI difficulty was set to legendary, with the lineup updated with the latest injuries and suspensions, to make sure it was as realistic as possible.
We predicted that Leeds United could have set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with the lineup as follows: Meslier, Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Hernandez, Harrison; Bamford.
We predict that Stoke City could have set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Joe Allen in the treatment room but Ryan Shawcross and James McClean both back involved. They would have lined up something like: Butland; Smith, Batth, Shawcross, Martins Indi; Thompson, Clucas; McClean, Powell, Ince; Campbell.
FIFA 20 predicts that Leeds United would have faced a very stubborn Stoke City side, who would put in an excellent, battling performance at Elland Road..
Leeds dominated possession throughout the game, but really struggled to create any chances, or even shots on goal, as City stood firm amid intense pressure.
The first-half saw no real chances of note, but it all kicked off in the second-half.
And, having frustrated the hosts for so long, Stoke broke to take the lead with just 15 minutes to go, with confusion at a set piece leading to the goal.
McClean floated in a brilliant cross from a free-kick on the left, which wasn’t dealt with by the home side, as the ball eventually found it’s way to Tom Ince, who lashed home from close range.
A great goal to put City 1-0 up against the league leaders. Bielsa’s side were really up against it now, with the chance of a positive result slipping away.
But just three minutes later, Leeds were back on level terms, responding almost immediately.
Pablo Hernandez released Pat Bamford clear of the City defence, before squaring to Jack Harrison – who has plenty of Stoke connections of his own – to power a shot first time into the near post to equalise.
Harrison is the son of prolific North Staffordshire non-league striker Johnny Giblin, who didn’t used to miss chances like that either. You might have spotted him on the odd team photograph for Forsbrook Butchers Arms and alike.
And despite pushing forward in the final minutes, Leeds had to settle for a hard fought draw.
If the Pools Panel had been right up to now, that would have got Stoke over the 50-point mark and all-but safe to fight another season in the Championship.
Full-time score: Leeds United 1-1 Stoke City
Here are the full-time match stats.
Despite enjoying most of the ball, Leeds’ only shot throughout the whole game was their goal from Jack Harrison, with Danny Batth and Ryan Shawcross leading a great defensive display.
We won’t get any football this weekend sadly and Stoke won’t be kicking themselves for not seeing through an almost perfect away performance.
Obviously, everyone’s main concern is the health of everyone, including players, staff and fans, so the virtual version of the game will have to do for now!