Uruguay’s hiring of Marcelo Bielsa will bring a high risk


Football’s pied piper is again in enterprise, able to enchant his subsequent group of younger gamers and lead them ahead, all the time ahead — Marcelo Bielsa has been named Uruguay’s new coach by way of the 2026 World Cup.

It signifies that an astonishing seven of CONMEBOL’s 10 nations at the moment are coached by an Argentine — together with Chile’s onetime Bielsa assistant Eduardo Berizzo. Brazil, nonetheless with out a coach, will stay an apparent exception. The different two — Ecuador and Peru — had been completely lately coached efficiently by Argentines. Indeed, after the respective resignations of Gustavo Alfaro and Ricardo Gareca, each of these nations had been rumoured to be fascinated by hiring Bielsa.

But the 67-year-old has lengthy felt an affinity with Uruguay — its high cultural degree, its gentility off the sector and its dedication to the trigger on the pitch — and as soon as they got here knocking he was open to the concept. It is a place the place he feels at house. This is just not a job the place a translator will be needed. The nuances of Bielsa’s florid, idiosyncratic Spanish will simply be understood.

Premier League followers will primarily know Bielsa from his time with Leeds United — and will recall his spell in Spain with Athletic Club. He was reportedly in negotiation to take the Everton job. But it’s actually controversial that his greatest work — and the place he actually made his title — was with South American nationwide groups.

He was not a significantly well-known determine when he took cost of Argentina in 1998. True, an important second, the 2002 World Cup, was a resounding flop. But his crew had been excellent in qualification, sweeping all earlier than them. Come the event, like most of the favourites, Argentina had been merely not recent sufficient to offer their greatest — a large downside in a type of play depending on dynamism. But Bielsa stepped down on a high, quickly after profitable the gold medal on the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

His four-year spell with Chile (2007-2011) was most likely much more spectacular. He took over a group of extremely promising children — Chile had reached the semifinals of the 2007 Under-20 World Cup — who had been formidable and eager to study. Chilean soccer had lacked a historic id, nevertheless it was very best spot for Bielsa to implement his concepts of high-intensity, high-pressing, high-line, proactive soccer.

Chile had been the neutrals’ favourites within the 2010 World Cup, and by reaching the second spherical they loved their greatest event with the exception of 1962, which they hosted. As successor and self-confessed Bielsa disciple Jorge Sampaoli acknowledged, it was Bielsa who laid the foundations for Chile’s first ever silverware, the Copa America triumph of 2015.

There are sure similarities with the state of affairs during which Uruguay at the moment discover themselves. The reboot carried out within the epic reign of Oscar Washington Tabarez (coach from 2006-2021) introduced Uruguay again to soccer’s prime desk. A bunch of gamers who got here right through the Tabarez years and the brief tenure of Diego Alonso at the moment are making ready to depart the scene after 4 straight World Cup appearances. And the emphasis positioned by Tabarez on the Under-20 aspect means that there’s a conveyor belt of expertise — in extraordinary numbers for a nation with a inhabitants of simply 3 million — prepared to switch them.

Bielsa, then, has loads of expertise to work with. Some may suppose that Bielsa and Uruguay is a unusual match, that La Celeste would reasonably take refuge in blanket defence than observe Bielsa’s attacking lead. This is a component reality, half stereotype. In 2003, Juan Ramon Carrasco had a temporary however fascinating ultra-attacking spell in cost, and a lesson from the Tabarez years is that the crew is succesful of tactical flexibility.

As so usually with Bielsa, the take a look at is the response after the unfavorable consequence which is all the time a risk in such a high risk mannequin of play. But it’s not arduous to think about him setting up a crew across the midfield dynamism of Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde, with Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez forward of him and Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo patrolling the backline.

And he will have a lengthy, arduous have a look at the approaching technology. Bielsa is eager to take cost of the Under-23s for qualification for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, which is a crucial event for Uruguay.

The begin of the fashionable age of soccer can virtually actually be dated from the 1924 Games, when the little recognized South Americans astonished all comers on their solution to the gold medal. When Uruguay repeated as gold medalists in 1928, the concept of a worldwide soccer event grew to become needed and inevitable.

Uruguay give the identical weight to these two gold medals as to their World Cup titles — the inaugural 1930 event as hosts over Argentina and their historic upset over favourites Brazil in 1950 — which is all symbolised by their 4 stars on the crest.

Next 12 months in Paris will be the centenary of that first gold medal, again in the identical metropolis the place historical past was made. Coaching the crew hoping to win a place is a huge accountability — and additionally it is a probability for Bielsa to sift by way of the children and quick observe some of them into the senior squad.

And so the pied piper stands able to play his favorite tune, within the hope of main Uruguay on a merry dance all the best way from the southern cone, through Paris, and probably glory on the 2026 World Cup.


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