Leeds United: Bulgarian media reacts to Ilia Gruev performance in draw v Serbia
Leeds United midfielder Ilia Gruev played the full 90 minutes of Bulgaria’s 2-2 draw with Serbia in Euro 2024 qualifying on Sunday 19 November.
Bulgaria, who are already unable to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany led until the 82nd minute until Srdjan Babic’s late goal ensuring that the points were shared and Serbia guaranteed their place in the Euros alongside Hungary.
Gruev, who has had a slightly slower-than-expected start at Leeds United, didn’t have the best of games at the heart of midfield and received a bit of criticism from the Bulgarian press, despite the fact a draw was a surprising result for the away side.
BTA were impressed by Bulgaria’s start to the second half but was quick to slam Gruev after he spurned an excellent chance early in the second half, writing that he “failed to score it from 5-6 meters” after Kiril Despodov’s cross landed at his feet.
While the likes of Glen Kamara and Ethan Ampadu have arrived at Elland Road and immediately found their feet at the heart of the Leeds midfield, it’s safe to say it has been a much slower start to life in the Championship for Gruev with the Whites.
While his miss looks to have been costly in Bulgaria’s clash with Serbia on Sunday, his overall display would have done little to tempt Daniel Farke into starting him when Leeds returns to action against Rotherham on Friday (24 November).
No outfield player for either side that played the full 90 minutes had fewer touches of the ball than the 23-year-old’s 58 and while he completed 92 per cent of his 52 attempted passes, only two efforts were into the final third as he created a single chance.
Defensively, Gruev did well, winning one tackle and coming out on top in two of his three duels. Still, it was another indifferent display that supporters at Elland Road have begun to expect from their forgotten man so far this season.
With his November international break over already, the 23-year-old can return to England and once again faces the task of winning a regular place in the heart of Farke’s well-stocked midfield.
In other Leeds United news, Graham Smyth has shared a behind-the-scenes update at Elland Road ahead of the January transfer window