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5 Disciples of Marcelo Bielsa and his tactics

Liam Flin
Top 5 / Top 10
38.96K   //    Timeless

Marcelo Bielsa during his Marseille daysWith a managerial career spanning more than 25 years, Marcelo Bielsa has stamped his mark on both the domestic and international stage, coaching in South America and Europe respectively.Following a mere three-year playing tenure, Bielsa went on to manage Argentinian outfit Newell’s Old Boys, before taking charge of a further six clubs and two nations, Argentina and Chile; the latter of which he practically revolutionised.The now 60-year-old built up a win percentage of 51.52% in his time with La Roja, leading them to an appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, following absences from the two previous editions of the tournament.His popularity was unrivalled and while his results proved pleasing, it has been the manner in which he has set up teams that have really caught the eye.Eager to instil teams with a hunger for attacking football, Bielsa has a reverence for experimentation in football. From replicating forecasted matchday conditions by tweaking the training pitch, to marking player boots in order to outline where they should connect with the ball, the Argentine lives and breathes the beautiful game and is considered as a tactical pioneer in the modern football world, hence why so many have opted to take a leaf out of his book. 

#1 Jorge Sampaoli

Jorge Sampaoli
Sampaoli helped Chile win the 2015 Copa America

Where better to start than with the man who superseded Bielsa as Chile manager in 2012. Sampaoli, a youth player at Newell’s Old Boys when Bielsa played for their firsts, swiftly adopted the aforementioned Argentine’s habit of trawling through tactical tapes, while the 3-3-1-3 formation had become so ingrained within the Chilean DNA that even if Sampaoli wished to dislodge it, he could not have done.

Alternatively, he thrived on it. Much like Bielsa’s side, Sampaoli’s Chile embraced a fluid transition from defence to attack, while also incorporating an intense pressing game high up the pitch. 

Of course, there were tweaks. On occasion, Sampaoli did switch to a 4-2-1-3 set-up to cater for his opponents and, while Bielsa stuck with a single pivot in midfield, Sampaoli preferred an amalgamation of different qualities through the middle from Arturo Vidal’s raw power and energy to Felipe Gutiérrez’s fluid movement in the final third.

Sampaoli recently resigned from his post as Chile coach but, in his time with the nation, he built on the progress Bielsa made. The 55-year-old lead the country to the Copa America title on home soil, while he was included on a three-man shortlist for the 2015 FIFA World Coach of the Year.

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Liam Flin
Writer for the Racing Post
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