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Marcielo Bielsa “El loco” A Coaches Coach

In the pantheon of football’s greatest minds, Marcelo Bielsa stands out not just for his achievements but for revolutionizing the way the game is played. Known affectionately as “El Loco,” Bielsa’s blend of tactical genius and philosophical depth has left an indelible mark on football. This article delves into the journey of Marcelo Bielsa, exploring how his innovative approaches and unique personality have shaped modern football and inspired a generation of coaches.


eBook – Breaking through a compact defense

Analysis and sessions from the tactics of Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola

This book also includes drills to help coaches apply the analysed tactics to their teams, by simply adding or adjusting them to their own training sessions.   


Marcelo Bielsa One of the Architects of Modern Football

Marcelo Bielsa, often referred to as “El Loco” (the Madman), is not just a towering figure in the world of football but also a symbol of pure passion and relentless innovation. His journey into football coaching was fueled by an early love for the game, growing up in Rosario, Argentina, a city deeply rooted in football culture.

From his formative years, Bielsa was drawn to the complexities of the sport, setting the stage for a career marked by an unwavering commitment to a distinctive style of play, a penchant for tactical innovation, and an influence that has rippled across continents.

At first he seems tough and he may even annoy you with his persistence and don’t take no for an answer resilience but in the end he is a genius.

Mauricio Pochettino

Bielsa’s coaching career began in his native Argentina with stints at Newell’s Old Boys and Vélez Sarsfield. Known for his detailed analysis and demanding training regimens, he quickly established himself as a coach dedicated to the sport, focusing on tactical discipline and a highly organized approach to play.

Marcelo Bielsa during his time at Athletic Bilbao
Marcelo Bielsa during his time at Athletic Bilbao. Photo: Natursports/Shutterstock.com

His illustrious career has seen him at the helm of several prominent teams, including the national sides of Argentina and Chile, and clubs like Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, and Leeds United. His tenure at Leeds United is particularly noteworthy, leading the team back to the Premier League and demonstrating his unparalleled ability to revitalize teams and achieve remarkable successes.

Tactical Innovations and Style

Renowned for his tactical innovations, Marcelo Bielsa’s most notable contribution is the 3-3-1-3 formation. This pioneering approach redefined fluid, attacking play, demanding swift adaptability from players to the ever-changing dynamics on the field. His teams are synonymous with high-intensity pressing, seamless transitions from defense to offense, and a philosophy that champions possession-based, proactive football.

Marcelo Bielsa – 3-3-1-3 Formation

What sets Bielsa apart is not just his on-pitch tactics but a holistic view of football encompassing thorough preparation and an in-depth understanding of the opposition. His strategy of playing with a high defensive line, encouraging goalkeepers and defenders to build play from the back, and relentless pursuit of ball possession to launch rapid counterattacks, underscores his innovative mindset.

Legacy and Influence

Bielsa’s legacy transcends the teams he has managed. His visionary ideas and methodologies have become a beacon for modern coaches, including luminaries like Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino, who acknowledge Bielsa as a pivotal influence in their coaching philosophies. The impact of his philosophy is evident across various global leagues, cementing his status as a revolutionary figure in contemporary football.

Bielsa Mural by Street Artist Irek Jasutowicz at Hyde Park Corner in Leeds. Photo: Rolf_52/Shutterstock.com
Bielsa Mural by Street Artist Irek Jasutowicz at Hyde Park Corner in Leeds. Photo: Rolf_52/Shutterstock.com

Beyond his tactical genius, Bielsa is celebrated for his idiosyncrasies. His distinctive habit of observing games perched on a cooler, rather than sitting on the bench, has become iconic. His meticulous attention to the intricacies of football, fused with a deeply philosophical coaching approach, distinguishes him in the footballing world.

Marcelo Bielsa’s imprint on football is indelible. His devotion to an attacking, possession-oriented style, fused with tactical brilliance and a unique coaching methodology, has secured his legacy among the legends of the game. More than his achievements, it’s the way Bielsa has influenced the tactical thinking and methodologies of coaches and teams globally that cements his place in the annals of football history.

Marcelo Bielsa – Books we recommend

If you want to dive deeper into the world of Marcelo Bielsa, his coaching philosophy, tactics and teams, we recommed the following books, available as eBook & hard copy, from our store!

Marcelo Bielsa – Coaching Build up Play against high pressing Teams

Learn to Coach “The Bielsa Way” – Building Up Play Against High Pressing Teams with 9 Full Sessions (35 Practices) based on 9 Game Situations from the Tactics of Marcelo Bielsa.


Breaking through a compact defense

Analysis and sessions from the tactics of Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola! This book which is based on the tactics of Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola also includes drills to help coaches apply the analysed tactics to their teams, by simply adding or adjusting them to their own training sessions.   


Marcelo Bielsa – Attacking Tactics and Sessions: 4-1-4-1

How to attack and create chances in the final third with Marcelo Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 formation 93 Practices & Variations based on 148 Tactical Situations.


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