Marcelo Bielsa Biography

Wednesday03 February 2021 | 8:30
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If you are a football fan, you must be enjoying Leeds United’s performances this season. Now, you must be thinking who is the nutjob behind this charming team? Well, voila! We have jotted Marcelo Bielsa biography down for you.

Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera is a professional football manager from Argentina and the current head coach of the Leeds United Premier League team. He is also an ex-player and has played for Newell's Old Boys, Instituto de Córdoba, and Argentino de Rosario as a defender.

In Newell's Old Boys' First Division side, Bielsa played as a defender, but retired when he was 25 to concentrate on coaching. Bielsa has managed many football clubs, as well as the Argentine and Chilean national teams. He developed his career as Newell's Old Boys coach, where in the early 1990s he won several championships, before moving to Mexico in 1992, coaching Club Atlas and Club América briefly. In 1997, Bielsa came back to Argentina to manage Vélez Sarsfield, steering them to the title in the 1998 league.

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Marcelo Bielsa bio


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Everything You Need to Know About Marcelo Bielsa biography

There are so many facts about

Marcelo Bielsa life story

that could intrigue you. Below is all the information you need about this genius.

Marcelo Bielsa Information

Marcelo Bielsa Bio

  • Real Name:

    Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera

  • Nickname:

    Madman Bielsa

  • Profession:

    Professional Manager

Marcelo Bielsa Physical Stats

  • Weight: 

    95 kg

  • Height: 

    184 cm

  • Hair Color: 


  • Eye Color: 


Marcelo Bielsa Information

  • Position: 


  • Jersey Number: 


  • Professional Debut: 


Marcelo Bielsa Date of Birth and Personal Information

  • Date of Birth:

    21 July 1955

  • Birth Place:

    Rosario, Argentina

  • Zodiac Sign:


  • Nationality:


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Marcelo Bielsa Early Life

There isn’t much information about

Marcelo Bielsa childhood

. All we know is that he was born in 1955, and he retired at an early age, when he was 25. Bielsa decided in 1980, after retiring from playing football, to start a career as a football manager. Coaching the youth divisions of Newell's was his first task. He was charged with managing their first team in 1990, where he would manage to win the 1990 Torneo Apertura and the 1990-91 Torneo Integración, defeating Boca Juniors on penalties.

Bielsa controlled the squad that played in the 1992 Copa Libertadores final, losing on penalties to São Paulo. Bielsa and Newell's won the 1992 Torneo Clausura weeks after their Libertadores loss. He returned to Argentina after a spell in Mexico and won another league title, the 1998 Clausura, while coaching Vélez Sarsfield.

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Marcelo Bielsa Profile

An important part of

Marcelo Bielsa biography

is his profile. Thus, we will have a thorough look at his professional profile.

Bielsa was appointed manager of the Spanish La Liga side of Espanyol in 1998, but soon resigned after being offered the management of the Argentine national team later that year, taking over from Daniel Passarella as manager after a four-year run. At the 1999 Copa América, in a match where Argentina forward Martin Palermo missed three penalties and Bielsa was sent off, Argentina was beaten 3-0 by Colombia.

Tim Vickery of the BBC writes on Bielsa's post-match reaction, he sat gazing into space in the press conference, refusing to make eye contact with anyone-. He was asked what he had made of the success of the referee. The response, if the question was predictable, was anything but. "One doesn't usually have the habit of commenting on referees, but…" he said. He continued with, "but in respect of my expulsion, the referee was absolutely correct because I protested in an ill-mannered form."


Marcelo Bielsa nationality

is Argentinian, ge was appointed as Argentina manager in 1998. 


won the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification round under Bielsa's guidance, but did not advance beyond the tournament's first knockout round. Despite this, Bielsa remained in his place as manager of Argentina. In the 2004 Copa América, the Albicelestes were runners-up and claimed the 2004 Olympic Games gold medal. With the latter, after 1928 (when Uruguay defeated Argentina in the final), his team became the first Latin American team to win the football Olympic title, the first Argentinian Olympic gold medal in 52 years. At the end of 2004, however, Bielsa resigned, being replaced by José Pékerman.

Under Bielsa's management, the Chile national team underwent many positive and negative historic firsts. For the first time in its history, Chile was able to earn a point playing Uruguay away in Montevideo. Chile also suffered their worst defeat ever when playing at home during qualifiers losing 3–0 against Paraguay. This historic low was repeated with a Chile loss of 3–0 against Brazil, which also marked the first home loss against Brazil in a qualification game in nearly 50 years. On 15 October 2008, however, Bielsa masterminded a 1–0 win over his native Argentina, Chile's first win ever over Argentina in an official match; Argentina's loss prompted the resignation of its coach Alfio Basile.



, owing to the enhanced performance of the national team under his leadership, he gained cult status. During his term in Chile, his attitude and movements caught the attention of the media and unleashed a series of minor scandals in both sports and politics. Between 2011 and 2013, he had a two-year spell at Athletic Bilbao in Spain, guiding them to the first season's domestic and continental cup finals, although they lost both. Bielsa resigned as coach of Marseille on 8 August 2015 after just over a year at the French club.

By helping Chile qualify for a World Cup after two tournament absences, Bielsa attained great popularity there. His appointment brought about visible changes in the Chilean set-up, with the fast-tracking of young talents and a more attacking mindset away from home.

On 3 October 2011, when Bielsa was in charge of

Athletic Bilbao

, as a devout Roman Catholic, visited the Poor Clares of Guernica, Spain, alongside his wife. He wanted them to pray for his team, which they have done ever since. The players began to adjust to the changes as the season progressed, and following an away victory at local rivals Real Sociedad. Athletic Bilbao produced a good run of autumn form which included wins over Paris Saint-Germain, Osasuna and Sevilla, as well as credible draws with Valencia and Barcelona, then only to drop points at home to newly promoted Granada. The team also finished top of their UEFA Europa League group and defeated Lokomotiv Moscow in the last 32.

Athletic then drew Manchester United and in impressive style won 3–2 in the first leg at Old Trafford, going on to knock them out of the tournament with a 2–1 victory at home. In the quarter-final, they went to Schalke 04 and won the first leg 4–2, despite being 2–1 down after a Raúl brace on 72 minutes. Athletic drew the second leg against Schalke 2–2, going through to the semi-finals with a favourable aggregate score of 6–4 to face Sporting Clube de Portugal.

After Athletic lost the first leg of the semi-final 2–1 in Lisbon, they overturned this result in the return leg and ran out 4–3 winners on aggregate when Fernando Llorente scored the winner in the 88th minute. This set up a match with Atlético Madrid in an all-Spanish Europa League final. Athletic, however, would lose 3–0 in the final, played on 9 May at the Arena Națională, Bucharest. On 25 May 2012, Athletic also lost the Copa del Rey Final against Barcelona at the Vicente Calderón Stadium, falling 3–0.

The 2012–13 season was a major disappointment for Athletic: the sale of key midfielder Javi Martínez to Bayern Munich, and striker Fernando Llorente being frozen out of the club over contract disagreements, led to the Lions' performances faltering. After finishing only in 12th place in La Liga, on 7 June 2013 Athletic's president revealed that Bielsa would not be offered a new contract. When it expired on 30 June 2013, he left the club.

On 2 May 2014,


president Vincent Labrune announced the hiring of Bielsa as his team's coach on a French radio station. Labrune had previously confirmed an agreement in principle had been reached after the club's 0–0 Ligue 1 draw with Lille on 20 April. Bielsa signed a two-year contract set to begin after the 2014 World Cup, thus becoming the club's first Argentine coach. He led them to the symbolic title of "autumn champions" after they beat Lille OSC on Matchday 19 (on 21 December 2014) of the 2014–15 Ligue 1 season before they faded to finish fourth in Ligue 1 at the end of the season. On 8 August 2015, after losing opening 2015–16 Ligue 1 match against Caen, Bielsa announced his resignation as the result of conflicts with the club's management stating that there were changes made in his contract.

On 6 July 2016, Bielsa was appointed manager of Italian Serie A club Lazio. However, just two days later, on 8 July, Bielsa quit as the club's manager, prompting Lazio to issue legal action against Bielsa for breach of contract, suing him for €50 million. Bielsa later explained that the club had been unable to recruit the players he had wanted by the deadline he had given to the club and did not feel that his needs would be supported during the transfer window.

On 24 May 2017, Bielsa was unveiled as the new manager of Ligue 1 club Lille on a two-year contract. Upon joining, Bielsa wanted to bring a more youthful side to Lille's squad and before the season started, he informed 11 experienced players including Vincent Enyeama, Marko Baša, Rio Mavuba and Eder that they could leave the club. Then Lille OSC player Éric Bauthéac revealed that Bielsa informed the players he wanted to leave in a conversation before pre-season had even began. With Bielsa signing younger 'promising' players such as Nicolas Pépé, Thiago Mendes, Thiago Maia, Kévin Malcuit, Fodé Ballo-Touré, Luiz Araújo and Edgar Ié.

On 22 November 2017, Bielsa was suspended as coach after just 13 games in charge, with Lille OSC announcing he had been "suspended momentarily as coach" pending further announcement. After Bielsa's initial suspension, Lille appointed a four-man 'technical coaching unit' of Fernando Da Cruz, Joao Sacramento, Benoit Delaval and Franck Mantaux. On 15 December 2017, Lille announced Bielsa's contract had now been terminated.

Bielsa's reign at Leeds

Marcelo Bielsa biography just got more interesting as we approach the story of his reign at Leeds United. Bielsa became the new head coach of Championship club Leeds United to replace Paul Heckingbottom on 15 June 2018, agreeing a two-year deal with the option of a third year. In doing so, he became the best-paid boss in the history of Leeds United. Leeds won their opening match of the new 2018-19 Championship season, defeating Stoke City 3-1. Bielsa's side beat Derby County 4–1 at Pride Park Stadium in his second game as manager.

In the EFL Cup, Bielsa also won his third game in charge, 2-1 against Bolton, making him the first Leeds manager since Jimmy Armfield in October 1974 to win his opening three games. Following their 2-0 win over Rotherham United, this run expanded to four games, making him the first Leeds United manager ever to record four consecutive wins at the beginning of their reign as head coach. Bielsa was awarded Championship Manager of the Month for August 2018 by the EFL after leading

Leeds United

through the first six Championship rounds unbeaten and to the top of the table.

On 28 April 2019, in Leeds' penultimate league game against Aston Villa at Elland Road, Bielsa made one of the most controversial managerial calls of the Championship season. In the 72nd minute of a close game between two teams who were basically jostling for a place in the playoffs, even though Leeds was still able to win automatic promotion 'mathematically' when Jonathan Kodjia of Villa was injured and remained on the ground, The ball was passed by Tyler Roberts up the line to Mateusz Klich, who took the ball up the left wing and positioned the ball in the far corner past Jed Steer. With Villa's Conor Hourihane, Ahmed Elmohamady, Neil Taylor and Leeds' Patrick Bamford caught up in a fracas with Klich at its heart, the goal-the first of the game-sparked mayhem, this included some additional players from both sides and was subsequently broken up by referee Stuart Attwell, stewards of Elland Road and other players.

Attwell sent off the vaguely involved Anwar El Ghazi with a straight red card in the immediate aftermath (subsequently rescinded by the F.A.) and Bielsa's reaction to his players was, that his team should allow an unchallenged equaliser to be scored in the interest of justice and after consulting with Villa boss Dean Smith (the manager can be seen screaming from the touchline "Give the goal! Give the goal!"). Albert Adomah effectively walked the ball into the net unchallenged by 10 Leeds players after the restart, with only a disappointed and disbelieving Pontus Jansson chasing. The game stayed 1-1 and put Leeds mathematically out of reach for the second automatic promotion slot and saw them join the play-offs. On 23 September 2019, for their actions during this game, Bielsa and the team were collectively awarded the 2019 FIFA Fair Play Award, with the FIFA citation noting that "The game finished 1–1, ultimately allowing their promotion rivals Sheffield United to guarantee their automatic spot in the Premier League, at Leeds’ expense. What was at stake makes Bielsa’s act of sportmanship all the more remarkable".

At the end of the 2018–19 season, with Leeds losing out on automatic promotion, Bielsa said he refused to blame the club for missing out on the signing of the winger Daniel James, whose contract dropped drastically on the deadline of the January 2019 transfer window, but said, "I'm not underlying the importance of the absence of (Dan) James". Leeds ended the regular season in third place and qualified for the playoffs, after the injury hit the season, Leeds also had some main players hurt in the playoff campaign. In the semi-final playoffs against the sixth-placed Derby County, they were beaten by a total of 3–4 over the two legs.

Despite winning 1–0 at Pride Park in the home leg at Elland Road, Bielsa's Leeds lost 4–2 in a match that saw both teams drop to 10 and Derby advance to the final against Aston Villa. With Bielsa dismissing the narrative of 'Bielsa Burnout' (journalists' hypothesis that his sides are exhausted in the second half of the season), Bielsa said one of the key reasons Leeds struggled to win promotion was their mismanagement in front of the goal over the course of the season, arguing that comparatively Leeds needed quite few more opportunities to score compared to their league rivals. 

On 28 May 2019, Bielsa and Leeds mutually accepted the option under Bielsa's contract to continue as


Head Coach for the following 2019–20 season.

After defeating Yorkshire's Barnsley rivals on 15 September 2019, Bielsa's Leeds team stayed at the top of the Championship after seven games in the 2019–20 EFL Championship. Bielsa's Leeds continued to flourish all through the month of November, and Bielsa won the EFL Championship Manager of the Month in November.

The Bielsa side rose to the top of the league on 29 December 2019, finishing the decade at the top of the EFL Championship after a 4-5 victory in a thrilling win over Birmingham City. On 1 January 2020, Leeds achieved a 1–1 draw with the then second-placed West Bromwich Albion. The result kept Leeds at the top of the table on goal difference. 

After the English professional football season was halted in March 2020 due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on football association, the season was resumed in June under Bielsa, when Leeds United won the Premier League promotion on 17 July 2020 with two matches remaining for the 2019-20 season, And also become the 2019-20 season EFL Championship, finishing 10 points clear of the second -positioned West Brom.

After winning the EFL Championship and leading Leeds to the Premier League after a 16-year absence, Bielsa was declared LMA Championship Manager of the Year 2020 on 27 July 2020. On 31 July, Bielsa received a month's Championship Manager award for July. On 11 September 2020, Bielsa signed a new deal to remain in Leeds for the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Bielsa's first match as head coach in the Premier League on the opening game of the season against Liverpool on 12 September 2020 ended in a 3-4 loss, with two penalties for Liverpool and Anfield for the reigning champions. 

Style of Management

An interesting part of Marcelo Bielsa biography is his style of management. Given his strong influence on former players, many of whom later became coaches (Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone, Marcelo Gallardo) he was considered one of the most prominent managers in the modern period, bringing a third wave philosophy into the Argentine coaching dichotomy previously formed by César Luis Menotti and Carlos Bilardo. Pep Guardiola defined Bielsa as the best in the world.

Bielsa's trademark formation in his squads – which he made famous and took to the forefront of the popular world football scene during his coaching sessions with the national teams of Argentina and Chile and Marseille – is the 3–3–1–3 formation.

For this formation, the players are: three defenders, three middlemen (one central centerman with two wide players/wing backs), three attacking middlemen (one No.10 and two wingers) and one center-forward. The 3–3–1–3 allows fast switches from defense to attack, as many of the players included in the formation can perform both defensive and attacking duties. In addition, there is dominance in numbers in any part of the field, because with this arrangement,

His teams may defend with seven players, attack with six or seven players, or protect the scoreline by flooding the field with six players. In order to use 3–3–1–3, all players must immediately set to attack positions when the ball is in the team's possession, and all players have to press and retrieve the ball vigorously when it's not in their hands, so it takes a lot of coordination and understanding between teammates.

At the end of his first training session, Bielsa gave the players a pencil and a little slip of paper. He wanted them to write down whether they wanted to line up with three or four backs. He read all the answers. "Back four, back four, back four... This clearly shows your preference for a line of four. But I'm telling you that from now on we're going to be playing with a back three. See you tomorrow." And he won them over, bringing them round to his way of thinking.

He adjusted to an attack of 4–3–3 at Athletic Bilbao (as seen in the 2012 UEFA Europa League Final), with full-backs going forward and a converted back-line midfielder players still participating in the build-up, with the pressing and teamwork elements still in evidence.

In the 2018–19 season at Leeds United, Bielsa introduced a 4–1–4–1 formation, transforming Kalvin Phillips from a box-to-box or an attacker to a deep-seater. Faced with a team that played with two central strikers, Bielsa would move to 3–3–1–3.

Bielsa's signature style of management has had so much impact on the football scene that many of the new coaches – former players under Bielsa's command – are highly influenced by style, such as Gerardo Martino, Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone, Matías Almeyda, Eduardo Berizzo, Mauricio Pellegrino, Santiago Solari and Marcelo Gallardo.

Present Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola praised Bielsa as his tactical inspiration, naming him the "best manager in the world" in 2012. Jorge Sampaoli, former manager of Argentina, Sevilla FC and Chile, was identified as a "disciple" of Bielsa.


An important part of

Marcelo Bielsa biography

is how well-received he is among pundits and former players. Former Argentine national team captain Roberto Ayala, a defenseman under Bielsa, said, "Sometimes we wouldn't see any of the strikers, because he'd have them training at a different time, and it was the same with the midfielders"

Bielsa is known for watching and collecting soccer videos to the point of insanity. He edits and analyzes each video for each player. He also uses statistical software and other technical resources to prepare for sports. John Carlin, an English writer, said that Bielsa has "the most learned football library on the planet"

Bielsa likes to systematize the game. He says there are 29 different football formations and feels that every young player should be given the opportunity to explore each of them.

Discovered by Bielsa, prolific former Argentina national team striker Gabriel Batistuta proclaimed Bielsa to be "the one who taught me how to train on rainy days, he taught me everything". Fernando Llorente, who played under Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao, said of his former coach, "At first he seems tough and he may even annoy you with his persistence and don't-take-no-for-an-answer resilience, but in the end he is a genius." Chile international Alexis Sánchez said of Bielsa: "I learned a lot from him and it is because of him that I am who I am." Bayern Munich player Javi Martínez who worked with Bielsa at Bilbao, said that 'Bielsa taught me a lot, how to play as a centre-back and to learn a different style of football, everyone should work with him at least once in their life.'

Manchester City and France player Benjamin Mendy cited for his improvement under Bielsa at Marseille, Mendy claimed Bielsa had "given back to him the strength and aggressiveness lost last year." His club and international teammate Aymeric Laporte who was given his debut by Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao, described him as a 'mentor' figure,[140] while fellow France international Dimitri Payet who worked with Bielsa at Marseille said: "The season with Marcelo Bielsa made me grow, as a man and especially on the field, in the game, he gave me important bases that I still use today." Former Lille player Nicolas Pépé (now at Arsenal) who was signed by Bielsa for Lille described Bielsa as 'special' and a 'great coach'.

Marcelo Bielsa Outside Football

Marcelo Bielsa is a football fanatic. Thus, it cannot be expected that he would take a break from football. Bielsa’s life is incomplete without football.

Marelo Bielsa religion

is Roman Catholic. On 18 July, after delivering promotion, a street in Leeds city center was subsequently renamed 'Marcelo Bielsa Way'.

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In August 2019, Bielsa was one of the main stars of Leeds United documentary 'Take Us Home' documenting the 2018–19 season on Amazon Prime, featuring in several episodes over voice recording, before doing a rare sit-down interview for the final episode 'The End', the documentary was narrated by Academy Award-winning actor and Leeds United fan Russell Crowe. 

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Marcelo Bielsa Personal Life

Family, children and relationships

A woman is behind any successful manager, and in that department, our Marcelo Bielsa is not missing. For over 30 years, Bielsa has been married to Laura Bracalenti. She's an architect and an educator at Rosario National University.

Marcelo and Laura have two daughters named Mercedes and Ines. Ines is a fan of hockey and Mercedes likes to keep it quiet, unlike her sister.


A recent event caught media’s attention. A Leeds United fan named Tony Clarke made a 75kg bronze statue of Bielsa. He wanted to give him the statue, yet, when Bielsa caught wind of the idea, he asked Tony to wheel it around the country and raise funds for MIND mental health charity. Of course English media hailed Bielsa and Tony Clarke for this great devotion and selflessness. 

Legal Issues

Before a 2–0 victory over Derby County on 11 January 2019 to further Leeds' lead at the top of the Championship table, in the pre match build up Bielsa admitted he had sent a spy to the Derby training ground, after reports emerged in the press that a man was spotted the previous day outside the Derby training ground. Derby manager Frank Lampard was critical of Bielsa's method. On 12 January, Leeds United released a statement in response to the incident.

Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino described the incident as 'not a big deal' and commonplace in Argentina. Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola, when asked about Bielsa's due to his scouting methods, described him as 'the best' and 'everyone who works with him is a better player and the teams are better. That's why he's a special manager and special person'. On 15 January, the EFL announced they would be investigating the incident.

With intense media scrutiny on what was coined 'Spygate' in the media, dividing opinion worldwide, on 16 January 2019 Bielsa announced a press briefing, where he gave a detailed analysis of his research on a PowerPoint presentation to the gathered media and journalists, detailing his meticulousness, thoroughness and preparation over his opponents, with some journalists in attendance describing it as a 'coaching masterclass' and 'genius'.

Bielsa's 'Spygate' saga was resolved on the 18 February, when Leeds were fined a sum of £200,000 by the EFL for breach of a portion of Rule 3.4 of EFL Regulations ("In all matters and transactions relating to The League each Club shall behave towards each other Club and The League with the utmost good faith.), with the EFL also announcing a new rule as a result, that teams could not watch opposition training up to 72 hours before a game. It was subsequently revealed, by Bielsa, that he paid the £200,000 fine in full out of his own pocket.

With Bielsa's Leeds in 2nd place with just 4 games to go and thus in the automatic promotion position ahead of rivals Sheffield United, on 19 April, Leeds lost in a shock 1–2 defeat against relegation threatened Wigan Athletic, with Leeds playing 70 minutes against 10 men after Wigan had Cédric Kipré sent off. The result proved costly, as Sheffield United overtook them on goal difference.

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Marcelo Bielsa Career Statistics

Bielsa has played 113 games as a player in 5 years (from 1975 to 1980). 


He has been a coach at club level for 553 games (and counting as he is currently Leeds United manager). He has won 238 games.


He has managed Argentina and Chile in 134 games, and he has scraped 76 wins.

Marcelo Bielsa Honors

Bielsa has won several individual and club awards and trophies. He has won some notable titles including 3 Argentina Primera titles, as well as a Copa del Rey and an EFL Championship.

Bielsa's most notable individual award is FIFA Fair Play Award, along with South American Coach of the Year. 




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