Leeds United news: Robin Koch takes big step forward under Marcelo Bielsa


Leeds United's summer swoop for Robin Koch was largely considered a coup for the newly promoted outfit and the standard of his early season form under Marcelo Bielsa has vindicated the hype surrounding his arrival. 

With a name that carries the capacity to bring out the immature side in Martin Tyler, Koch was always going to be one of the ones to watch this season.

His eye-catching form with Freiburg in the Bundesliga helped him to become a Germany international at the age of 23, and his seamless transition to life in the Premier League will only aid his cause on the international front. 

Brought in by Marcelo Bielsa as part of Leeds' summer endeavour to add both strength and depth to the newly promoted squad, the 6ft 3in enforcer has imprinted his place in the starting XI following a string of fine performances. 

Koch's rise to international football, comparisons with Javi Martinez and gushing admiration from Freiburg's head coach, Christian Streich, who labelled him a "warrior", all contributed to a rapidly snowballing reputation before he moved to Elland Road.

Under Bielsa, however, the 24-year-old has stepped up another level.

The sizeable demands Bielsa bestows on his players have been well documented.

The Argentine's methods have been revered throughout the footballing world, and his ability to squeeze more out of individuals to help the team is one of his defining qualities. 

And there is evidence to suggest he's already doing that with Koch. 

We're only eight games into the new season but a statistical comparison with Koch's beginning to the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign reveals how much more is expected of him within his new environment. 

According to data acquired from Twenty3, Koch is participating in more duels, attempting to win the ball further up the pitch and trying to complete more passes. 


In Leeds' first eight games this season, Koch has completed 10.75 defensive duels per 90 minutes compared to just 4.84 in Freiburg's first eight games last season.

That his defensive duels have more than doubled shows how much more the Whites' expansive system demands from its defenders, with the attacking endeavours often leaving Koch and other members of the back-four in vulnerable one vs one situations. 

An increase in ball recoveries completed also underlines how Bielsa's high-press philosophy has influenced Koch's positioning and encouraged him to step higher up the pitch in order to reclaim possession, while an extra 15 passes per game is indicative of the club's desire to build attacks from deep.

It's a good job Koch has the technical quality to be trusted to recycle the ball as regularly as he has this season. 

The natural consequence of these extra demands is, unfortunately, a greater chance of losing the ball in dangerous areas inside your own half. 


Koch has lost the ball in dangerous areas inside his own half 1.17 times per 90 minutes this season compared to just 0.79 at Freiburg.

A quintessential case of this drawback in motion came against Leicester City when Koch's back pass fell short of Illan Meslier and allowed the Foxes to net an early opening goal. 

But aside from that one individual error, Leeds will be ecstatic with how the £15.3m-rated man has started the season.

Slick in possession, physically domineering and defensively astute, Koch looks to be the real deal and his statistical return shows how quickly he has adapted to Bielsa's regime. 

If he continues on this upward trajectory, it won't take long before Koch becomes an indispensable figure at the club. 

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