What exactly is Bielsa ball? It’s the style of play that Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa has perfected and now uses at Leeds United. It’s attacking football centered on keeping possession of the ball. And for Bielsa ball, the key is moving the soccer ball as quickly as possible to the player in the most advantageous position on the soccer field.
Credit goes to Leeds United for the image at the top.
And the Bielsa style has influenced managers like Guardiola, Pochettino, and Simeone. Again, the essentials of Bielsa ball are keeping possession of the ball, using the width, adding numbers around the ball for support, playing at speed, and pressing when not in possession of the ball.
But Biesla’s teams don’t sit back and bunker in on defense. Bielsa ball requires players to have high levels of fitness since they are constantly moving and running. Often you see teams managed by Biesla concedes a lot of goals but also score a number of goals. Since everyone joins the attack they can be caught on the counter.
Biesla’s preferred formation is 3–3–3–1: three defenders, three midfielders, three attacking midfielders, and one forward. It’s a free flowing style of play where the wide players get up and down the flanks. It’s relentless. Other teams are caught off guard and stumble when they think they can relax. Bielsa style of play requires players who are skilled on the ball, whether they are defenders or attackers.
A wonderful team goal as Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United put together a 30-pass move. Pablo Hernandez scores against Stoke City in a 5-0 win after a long sequence of passes. What’s funny too, about this 30 pass sequence, is it could really be 31 if you count the genius dummy of the ball just before the goal.
BIELSA BALL! Stunning 30-pass move from Leeds United for Pablo Hernandez goal!
Watch footage from our dugout camera as Marcelo Bielsa, his staff and players react during our superb 3-1 win over Spurs at Elland Road in the Premier League.
Bielsa ball at its best! Dugout Cam from Leeds United.
Is Marcelo Bielsa the Most Influential Manager Alive?
Bielsa’s influence ranges across the tactical, analytical, and preparatory. Many have tempered Bielsa’s attacking intensity and added a degree of caution, but the foundations of today’s Tottenham Hotspur, River Plate, and San Jose Earthquakes are overtly rooted in the philosophy of Marcelo Bielsa. His breadth of influence, among so many coaches, surely marks out Marcelo Bielsa as one of the most important figures in the modern era of football.
Again though, since Bielsa ball is so focused on attacking, which is fun to watch, can often result in giving away too many goals. Sometimes fans wish that Bielsa would change his style of play when his teams take a lead or just not a result against a top team. So often you’ll see high scoring games when Bielsa is the manager.