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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.”
Chile’s 1-0 win over Switzerland, with a controversial goal and a dubious red card for their opponents, may have been highly controversial but there was no contesting the words of their coach Marcelo Bielsa afterwards — simply because it was almost impossible to understand what he was saying.
After our first excursion into the mind of Bielsa, here are some more gems from the spectacularly verbose Argentine, whose team need a draw against Spain on Friday to make sure of a second round place.
Can there be a more difficult job at the World Cup than providing the simultaneous translation when Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa is speaking?
The enigmatic Bielsa, who coached his native Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, has a unique manner of expressing himself — he actually says much the same things as other coaches but talks like an eccentric professor.
Marcelo Bielsa’s feats – leading Chile’s national team to the third spot in the World Cup qualifiers and just one win from a ticket to South Africa 2010 – have turned him into one of Chile’s most beloved figures. Men say he should run for president; women rank the introverted coach a sex symbol.
His popularity is backed by numbers. A poll in El Mercurio newspaper ranks Bielsa the best trainer in Chile’s soccer history, above Nelson Acosta who took the team to the second round of France 1998 and Fernando Riera who led “La Roja” to the third spot in Chile 1962.