Bielsa can make a difference at Stade Velodrome

25 Jul

Bielsa

While I’m no expert in French football and don’t generally enjoy watching a league that’s been historically classified as safety first, I do know Marcelo Bielsa and his methods very well and have enjoyed watching his teams over the years.

Bielsa’s aesthetically pleasing offence-minded pressing game does eventually lead to player burnout, particularly if the team he’s managing has little depth in their squad, but past evidence suggests that his charges can overachieve over the course of at least one season.

Sure, Athletic Bilbao’s league form tailed off badly in 2011/12 when the Argentine was in charge at San Mames, but there was little squad depth and his players featured in a lot of games by making both the UEFA Cup and Copa del Rey finals that season.

This season, however, from a potential burnout perspective, new Marseille coach Bielsa has the advantage of not having to play in Europe as the French side finished outside of the Champions and Europa League places in 2013/14.

A cup final appearance is also likely for Marseille with cup specialist Bielsa at the helm, but we’ll have to wait for a full market on that and the bet that’s caught my eyes for now is Marseille to finish in the Top 3 of Ligue 1 in 2014/5.

PSG, as you would expect, should win Ligue 1, while Monaco have sold their best player, James Rodriguez, but will likely finish second with, I hope, Bielsa’s new boys not far behind.

While pre-season games often feature teams in different stages of readiness for the new season, I’ve seen Marseille destroy Bayer Leverkusen and defeat Benfica in recent friendly’s, with the French side looking to have quickly adapted to Bielsa’s offensive ideas – and that’s a good sign for this bet.

Recommendation: Marseille Top 3 Ligue 1 Finish (11/8, Paddy Power)

Price correct as of 25/07/14

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