Olympic Footballers, Marcelo Bielsa

Looking back to the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece, you start to think, oh that was were it all started. The coach himself Marcelo Bielsa, a unique character in World football and currently the boss of Leeds United, was the man the led Argentina to a rare and their first Olympic Gold in football.

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We didn’t know this man as well back then and in the same sentence as we speak about Messi and Guardiola you find in between the two, Marcelo Bielsa, nursing forward a great group of U.23’s in this Argentinian team.

Players such as Javier Mascherano, Carlos Tevez, Gabriel Heinze, Roberto Ayala, German Lux and Javier Saviola among those.  They won all of their opening group games starting with a 6-0 battering of Serbia and Montenegro. Later winning 2-0 v. Tunisa and 1-0 v. Australia.

They then defeated Costa Rica 4-0 in the quarter final, a strong 3-0 win in the semi’s v. Italy and then in the final winning 1-0 against Paraguay. Bielsa coached close to perection not letting in a single goal, building up the difference 17-0 in all games.

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So again it might be a surprise that players we have fondly followed later in their career and Premier League stars such as Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez were both part of this unique adventure, becoming unique as the first Olympic Gold medalists in Argentinian football.

Carlos Tevez fixed the gold medal scoring the only goal of the final, and setting the standard of a career still running and with so many highlights especially while playing for Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus. Tevez is still playing and at the age of 35 turning out for Boca Juniors.

The gold medal in itself was a sensational achievement as it was the first in 52 years won by Argentina. It was also the first time since 1928 that a latin american team managed to win the tournament, and as we all know, copied this four years later with the team of Messi and Aguero.

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Bielsa moved on in football after his heroics in the Athens Olympics, and became the boss of Chile. A job he had for four years, after spending six years in charge of Argentina. He left the Chile job to go back to coaching in club football, this time taking on the challenge of Athletic Bilbao.

After two seasons with Bilbao he has had shorter periods in charge of clubs such as Marseille, Lazio and Lille in France before taking over at Leeds United in front of last season, seeing a bit of disappointment not being able to get the club promoted after being in front for long periods last season.

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Bielsa is known for his thorough coaching methods, his analytical approach and almost an obsession when it comes to getting all details in place to be able to break down oppositions by knowing everything worth knowing about them.

We all remember his spreadsheet presentation from last season after he was caught spying on Derby County, smugling in a person to get the best look possible, without telling anyone about his “clever math”.

Bielsea might be one overlooked when it comes to Olympic gold, but he is one of those footballers having one, not much said, but know you now.

 

 

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