The toughest job at the World Cup (part three)

June 28, 2010

SOCCER-WORLDChile have reached the last 16 at the World Cup for only the third time in 50 years and we’re delighted to report that coach Marcelo Bielsa has hit form at the right time.

The tournament’s most verbose coach was in at the top of his game in the run-up to the match against Brazil, baffling the world’s media with his long-winded answers to the simplest of questions and brilliantly using the double negative on at least one occasion. Here are some excerpts from what was billed as a news conference but sounded more like a lecture in philosophy.

How important is the absence of your two central defenders? “I cannot not know the performance they have produced in the World Cup and, in addition to the way they are playing at the moment, they are valuable players but I believe we are capable of opting for their team mates who will resolve their absence with reliability and competence, you come to a World Cup with a number of options for each position, and the objective of this is that other options will appear and in the match against Brazil we will try to verify whether we have done this job correctly as this is one of the objectives of a team which competes in a tournament of this magnitude.” (and, yes, that was all one sentence)

You’ve lost your last seven matches against Brazil. Does this worry you?

“The psychological aspect is always important in a championship but the fact which you are harbouring, from our point of view acts, acts as a stimulus, it’s an opportunity to reverse a situation which is based on negative precedents…..it’s not that, because you lost in the past, you enter the field in a depressed mood for having lost previous matches. Previous matches are precedents which you can never ignore, you value and you respect the achievements of your opponents, in the case of Brazil even more so because of the dimension of their footballing history, but, in a humble way, we aspire to finding a small space for ourselves.”

To beat Brazil, a team needs to produce a perfect performance. Can Chile do this? “We all learn from mistakes which we make and from mistakes which we have seen other people make, and we try to avoid making them. This is the process of making a mistake and avoiding making it again, seeing how others make mistakes to avoid making the same mistake, it’s a process which is not stable, nor can it be measured.

Are you hoping to avenge the previous losses? “The word revenge is a term which implies the type of conduct which I try, wherever possible, to avoid invading my activities, especially when you are talking about a football match. The phrase “to avenge a defeat” in a footballing sense seems to me to be exaggerated. We lost the last games, the next one is a new chapter and it also does not seem correct to me to anticipate that you are going to obtain something that you have not yet obtained. So I would like to exempt myself from fantasising over this position which you have put forward to me.”

Follow the links for parts one and two.

PHOTO: Chile’s coach Marcelo Bielsa (L) gestures to his players during a 2010 World Cup Group H match against Spain at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 25, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi.

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