New Leeds United head coach won’t have long to prepare his side for the Premier League clash with Leicester City following his appointment on Monday night.
Leeds fans are devastated that a legendary manager Marcelo Bielsa has left their club but over the next few days focus will begin to turn towards what is a crucial fixture against Leicester City this weekend. Leeds face Brendan Rodgers side having picked up only one point in their last six fixtures and conceding at least three goals in five of those.
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Marsch will have a job on his hands to stem the flow of goals, whilst putting across his principles of play and eyes will be on the first starting eleven the American coach names. Will he put his trust in Joe Gelhardt from the start? How will he arrange his midfield? Will he choose a four or three at the back?
Over his time as a coach Marsch has utilized several different formations, stating that principles are more important than formations. However, he does have three preferred shapes and here are Leeds Live’s suggestions for how the team might line up in each one of those.
Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Struijk, Firpo, Forshaw, Dallas, Raphinha, James, Rodrigo, Roberts/Gelhardt
The 4-2-2-2 shape is the classic Red Bull shape and is one that Ralph Hasenhuttl – also a Red Bull alumnus – has regularly utilized at Southampton. Ralf Rangnick has also brought it to Manchester United, with varying success.
In this form, the midfield two would sit more, rather than how Leeds have functioned in the past with one deep midfielder and two running ahead. However, the two wingers operate more like wide number 10s, drifting inside for the ball to overload the central space, as well as attacking the space in between full-backs and center backs.
Raphinha and James seem the best options for these positions, whilst perhaps in a back four, Robin Koch may take the right sided center back slot over Diego Llorente as Marsch likes an aerially dominant center back to deal with long balls that opponents use to try and beat his team’s pressure.
With Patrick Bamford still missing, it will be interesting to see who is preferred upfront. Rodrigo seems likely to be the deeper of the two strikers. It could then depend on whether Marsch prefers Tyler Roberts or whether he goes with Gelhardt. Either way, this player will be reuired to run behind opponents and stretch the play.
Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Firpo, Koch, Dallas, Forshaw, Raphinha, Rodrigo, James/Roberts/Gelhardt
Another shape that Marsch favors is a 4-4-2 diamond. It is perhaps not ideal for Leeds given the amount of wingers in the squad but here is a suggestion of how it could look.
Ayling and Firpo would be required to provide pretty much all the width and we could see Raphinha given a free role to roam to either side as he saw fit.
It also seems that without Kalvin Phillips, Koch would be needed to push back into the deepest midfield slot, bringing Llorente into central defence.
This formation finds no place for James or Jack Harrison but James could be considered to play up front as he has at times this season as he might flourish more in a proper strike partnership with Rodrigo.
Meslier, Llorente, Koch, Struijk, Ayling, Dallas, Forshaw, Firpo, Raphinha, Rodrigo, James
This might well be the formation which best suits Leeds’s current squad.
Koch would be likely to take up the central center back position and move up to create a midfield three at times, with the wingbacks dropping to create a back four when that happened.
Rodrigo would drop from high up to collect the ball, with Raphinha and James running beyond him.
If Leeds were to play this formation going forwards, the midfield two would most likely be Phillips and Adam Forshaw, but whilst Phillips is not yet fit, it could be Dallas alongside Forshaw.
One player who might thrive in a 3-4-3 is Junior Firpo. The ex-Barcelona man has struggled since moving for Elland Road but he played his best football for Real Betis when operating as a left wing-back in a 3-4-3.
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It could change regularly
One thing to note is that Marsch will likely use several different formations during his time at Leeds. Don’t expect the formation and line-up that he picks against Leicester to be the one he goes with from that point on. The key for the American will be attempting to get his ideas across quickly, in order to turn the Whites’ form around. That could involve a little trial and error, although all involved will be aware of how little time they have to get this right.