Sad news today as Leeds United appeared to rule out a much anticipated rematch against FC Gherdeina this summer, opting to take pre-season seriously with some top flight opposition from Spain and Germany.

The Whites enjoyed a crushing 16-0 win over Italian pub side FC Gherdeina last summer before a farcical pre-season tour culminated in a match against ourselves.

This time around, Leeds will head to Austria for a week-long training camp (18-24th July), during which time Uwe Rösler’s side are set to face-off against La Liga outfit, Athletic Bilbao.

Bilbao finished 7th in the Spanish top flight this season and will play FC Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final on Saturday. The betting at Sportsbook AG has Barcelona as predictable favourites for the tie, but Bilbao have an incredible record in the Spanish cup competition having won the tournament 23 times – that’s more wins than Real Madrid and only three less than Barcelona.

After showing Bilbao why FC Gherdeina feared a rematch, Leeds head to Norway where they’ll face Bundesliga side Hoffenheim at the Åråsen Stadion, home to Lillestrøm SK.

Leeds have a good following in Norway and given how well we generally travel for pre-season tours (it’s the closest to a European football we get nowadays), this could generate a decent turnout.

The most important thing of course, is that we prepare well for the coming season and the level of competition we’ve lined up is certainly encouraging in that respect. There’s a difficult balance to be struck in arranging pre-season friendlies because you want to give your players a match to look forward to, but you don’t want a team so strong, you’ll be hammered by a cricket scoreline and carry bad morale into the Championship season.

But what we also have to avoid is opposition too weak to serve any benefit to us. A 16-0 drubbing of an Italian pub team is all fun and games, but it provides the same benefit as having Lewis Hamilton train in a Nissan Micra. Furthermore, lesser opposition – as we regularly see in the FA Cup – can be very careless in the tackle when faced with opposition so much quicker and more able than they are.

Athletic Bilbao are a very strong side and Hoffenheim are no joke either, so Leeds are running the risk of an embarrassment here, but I think both fixtures will be exciting for our players and hopefully present a challenge they can rise to.