Marcelo Bielsa Returns to Face Argentina
“No one bathes in the same river twice,” says the popular aphorism of the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus. Marcelo Bielsa will not be in the same waters, but he will be on a stage whose channel and actors will be as familiar as they are close. With Uruguay, Bielsa will face the Argentine National Team, which he stopped managing 19 years ago. The Rosario coach will face another Rosario coach, the superstar Lionel Messi, and the coaching staff of the world champions.
After 15 years, Bielsa returns to face the Argentine National Team. The last match was on October 15, 2008, leading Chile, who beat the Albiceleste led by Alfio Basile 1-0 in Santiago. “El Loco” will now do it with the Uruguayan National Team with which he has just struck in October: he defeated Brazil on date 4 of the qualifying round at the legendary Centenario stadium after 22 years of not doing so in the Qualifying. In the same iconic Montevideo stadium he overwhelmed Chile in the debut with a 3-1 victory. As a visitor, they suffered a defeat against Ecuador in Quito and tied in Barranquilla against Colombia.
Of the 12 points in dispute, he reaped 7, but what he conquered most is his work method and his high status as the top person in charge of the Charrúa National Team. In the 6 months that he has been directing the Celeste, he has already imposed his stamp and recognition. “He is covering all of our mouths,” acknowledged a Uruguayan National Team veteran, such as Richard “Chengue” Morales.
La Celeste and its Offensive Football Imprint
Their vertical football was demonstrated in the first match against Chile, where the players showed that imprint of offensive football, of constant pressure towards the rival, making attacking football their game paradigm.
“Uruguay has players to try to face a rival like Argentina without first taking exaggerated precautions to prevent one of the great virtues that Uruguay has as a team, ball handling and individual quality, from trying to come to light,” Bielsa assured.
La Celeste has players of high technical quality, among them Federico Valverde who shines in the Real Madrid midfield, and who is the symbol of this National Team and, also, captain. Roland Araujo, defender of FC Barcelona, forward Darwin Núñez who shines for Liverpool in the Premier League, Facundo Pelistri of Manchester United, among other notable footballers, also stand out.
In that sense, the Rosario coach asserted: “If you do not have 5-6 players in the best teams and then build a game project without those players having the possibility of trying to demonstrate what they know how to do, from my point of view it would be a mistake.”
The Challenge of Facing the World Champion Team
In the run-up to this duel full of history, Bielsa praised the world champions. “It’s a brilliant cycle, not only in the results but in the drive to continue winning and the type of football it builds,” praised Bielsa.
The coaching staff of the Argentine National Team knows Bielsa very well, since all 4 members of the coaching staff were coached by the Rosario native. Lionel Scaloni and his team, made up of Walter Samuel, Pablo Aimar and Roberto Fabián Ayala, were direct witnesses of the Bielsa style. The Rosario’s imprint has been publicly praised by some of them.
The world champion coach did not hesitate to praise him: “For us, for those of us who have had the opportunity to be coached by him, he is a reference. We know well how he thinks, how he analyzes. We are proud that he can lead again, that is in a national team as prestigious as Uruguay. We appreciate it very much,” said Scaloni.
Lionel Scaloni also told an anecdote that marked him strongly. It was during his time as a player for Deportivo La Coruña and at the same time a member of the Argentine National Team. “In my first talk with Bielsa, in Japan, he called me into the room and made me watch a video of La Coruña against Racing de Ferrol for the Copa del Rey. We had come from playing a match theoretically reluctant and Bielsa told me: This is not the attitude of the National Team, this is not a National Team player. And he was right, these are things that stay with you…”, analyzed the young world champion coach.
Pablo Aimar, Scaloni’s assistant, was conclusive about what being coached by Bielsa meant to him: “Those of us who went through him know that we came into his hands as a player and we left better, this is what he leaves you,” he said, reflecting on it.
Facing Lionel Scaloni’s team will be a brave stop for Uruguay, also for Argentina, and at the same time a record of the size of the team that Bielsa is seeking to give greater strength and status. “It will be a match that in no way can be