Norwich City are ready to embrace the underdog tag to write another chapter in their memorable comeback story.

After a gruelling 46-game marathon, Leeds United and Daniel Farke stand between the Canaries and a Wembley final, where, nine years ago, they created memories to last a lifetime.

This time is different. David Wagner’s side will be massive outsiders. A 17-point gap between the two teams is the biggest since the second tier play-offs began.

But, just as he was at Huddersfield, and as Norwich have been for the majority of the campaign, Wagner is happy for his side to head into the contest as underdogs as they look to inflict more pain on Leeds after a turbulent end to their Championship season.

“That we are the underdogs, I think this is not a secret. If you see how big the gap is over 46 games, it means nothing,” Wagner told the Pink Un.

“I love our position, to be fair. This is exactly where it even means more if you can play from the underdog position at home, sold out in a proper game against the favourites.

“This is why many people love cup competitions as well, where underdogs can beat the odds, and for us, we take the role; we accept it.

“I think it's fair play to say that they are the favourites—but that doesn't mean we are not competitive, and it doesn't mean we can't win the semi-final. Absolutely not. We will fight for it.”

For Wagner and his players, since that flat finale at Birmingham last weekend, they have had a week to prepare, process and arm themselves ahead of Sunday’s first leg at Carrow Road.

City’s boss has cut a cool and composed figure amid plenty of pressure throughout the campaign. He is hoping for his squad to follow in his image as he attempts to strike the right balance within his playing squad ahead of the first leg at Carrow Road. 

“I think from my point of view it's good to give everyone the freedom to deal with it as they like to do. Some get excited three days before the game; some get excited when we leave Park Farm and drive to the stadium.

“So, I don't like to create anything externally from my side. For me, it's more important to keep the focus and prepare your team,” City’s head coach said

“Everyone is super fit. They've shown this over the whole season. Keep everyone healthy. Give the information which they need and make sure that everybody is calm enough and able to be focused on the details, which are important.

Norwich Evening News: Norwich City are searching for a Carrow Road advantage against Leeds United.Norwich City are searching for a Carrow Road advantage against Leeds United. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

“Then obviously, there will be the moment where the excitement starts internally in me, and then I will not hold it back, and I will give it to everyone else.”

 As much as the game will be about balancing emotions with tactical information, Wagner is urging everyone to enjoy the occasion after working so hard to finish inside the top six – even if the aim is to go one further.

“I think everyone should embrace the situation now because this is where they worked unbelievably hard for 10 months," he said. "This was one of our first targets, being in the top six, fighting for promotion, and that first step is done, but it’s only the first step.

“We had some very, very exciting games in this season already where the players have done and delivered.

“The derbies for example, or other big games at home, must-win games let's call it where they were fully on it.

“This gives us a lot of trust and belief in ourselves that when we have to deliver again we will be there and we will try our best. Do I know the result before the game? Obviously no.

“But do I know that we will fight for every inch, will make it as uncomfortable as possible for Leeds United with our home supporters, this intensity, this energy, this special feeling which we have to create because this game deserves it. Absolutely yes, we will be there.”

Since January, the run that Norwich have been on, recording 56 points in 32 matches, has required them to emerge through high-pressure, must win games in order to plot a route into the top six.

A derby day win against promoted Ipswich is perhaps the best example – but along the way were crucial victories versus West Brom, Coventry and away at Hull.

Wagner is hoping the experience and muscle memory of navigating such occasions stands them in good stead ahead of Sunday’s clash with Farke’s men.

Norwich Evening News: Norwich have emerged through some big occasions - like a derby win over Ipswich - in recent months.Norwich have emerged through some big occasions - like a derby win over Ipswich - in recent months. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

“I think, as you said, more or less during the last four months before, especially before every home game, it was named from you guys. It's another big game.

“Okay, this is the biggest game now, and maybe in two weeks time, there is the biggest of the biggest games. We are used to it, aren’t we?

“We had the Ipswich, the West Brom the Coventry, whatever games in the last month at home and we always have done the same, and this is the treatment which we will do again and have done,” Wagner said. “[We will] be focused on the details which are relevant and make sure the irrelevant stuff we keep out and this is where the players were fantastic.

“They were able to be really focused, do their work, we got the message across and they took it on board, and delivered when they crossed the white line and this was just great to see.

Norwich Evening News: David Wagner is searching for his second play-off triumph after winning them with Huddersfield in 2017.David Wagner is searching for his second play-off triumph after winning them with Huddersfield in 2017. (Image: Focus Images)

“We only have a chance if we do it together and this is the truth as well. And when I mean together, I mean, obviously everyone on the pitch, in the stands, the whole squad, starters, finishers whoever, even the guys who maybe can't help because of injuries, they have a part to play.

“I've spoken with them and everyone gives the highest possible positive energy into this game, into this group, in the next upcoming days, and obviously they've done it in the last days as well.”