What the Leeds United Tour in Australia Says About Jesse Marsch’s Tactics

Jesse Marsch

The Leeds United tour in Australia is an excellent opportunity for Jesse Marsch to make his mark on the squad. With a history of playing a very narrow formation but a squad full of wingers, knowing what to expect of the squad is difficult. The Aston Villa match taught us a lot about the tactics and selection of the side under Marsch.

Whilst pre-season is a learning experience for the players, there is plenty that viewers gain from watching closely. One of the big questions about Marsch was tactical. For example, the balance between pressing and marking is a potential stumbling block. The more we see in pre-season, the more we learn what to expect in the Wolves match.

Learning From Leeds United Tour Matches

Tactical Shape

One of the most consistent parts of the pre-season friendlies has been the tactical shapes the Leeds side adopts. Marsch’s predecessor, Marcelo Bielsa, preferred a wide style in attack. The sale of Raphinha to Barcelona, in addition to Marsch’s normal narrow style, has some thinking Leeds are becoming a squad without width. This hasn’t been the case so far.

As with their match against Blackpool, the team played in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The first half consisted of Dan James on the right and Jack Harrison on the left. Luis Sinisterra and Crysencio Summerville came on in the 60th minute, keeping the side wide with wingers and wing-backs bombing on throughout. With Sinisterra set to start against Crystal Palace, that width is here to stay throughout the season.


The switch from Bielsa to Marsch was difficult. The Leeds United tour in Australia is the perfect chance for fans to see how the all-action all the time mindset of Bielsa’s Leeds differs to this era. Having a focus on pressing is still clearly important, with the side pressing in packs throughout the match. However, the team seemed happier to sit deeper. For a few solid periods Aston Villa held the ball around the Leeds box, but with the only goal coming from a penalty, Marsch’s side were effective at limiting open play chances.

Aggression and physicality still play a fundamental role too, with 16-year-old Archie Gray’s only contribution being a firm challenge on John McGinn. Moments later Gray came off on a stretcher following the same Villa midfielder going over the ball and putting his studs firmly into the Leeds man’s ankles. A friendly in name only, anyone questioning the Yorkshire side’s passion was firmly proven wrong.


With every new manager comes a new set of selection habits. Some thought that the shift away from the small squad Bielsa enjoyed was a shift away from using youth in the side. The substitutions against Villa stand firmly against this. With Archie Gray just one of an U21 contingent that included Summerville, Sam Greenwood and Cody Drameh, the Leeda re continuing to invest resources and minutes into young players with potential.

Conclusions From Sunday’s Leeds United Tour Game

Marsch’s side have been consistent in playing a 4-2-3-1, and with players like Marc Roca and Rasmus Kristensen becoming key to each of the pre-season friendlies, the side for the Wolves match is starting to take shape. Expect youth, width and aggressive pressing when fans pack out Elland Road once more in August.