I have long been a fan of Marcelo Bielsa and his tactics. He is a tactical obsessive, an innovator and a character, and he has done a remarkable at Bilbao but it is his Chile tactic that I find the most interesting. I have obsessed over re creating his 3-3-1-3 fromation.
When manager of Chile, he usually utilised an incredibly demanding, physically draining 3-3-1-3 that requires the most immense sense of versatility. His philosophy of using attack-minded defenders shone through here, as he deployed defensive midfielders on the outside of one true central player to shuttle up and down the pitch. The second line of three contained something almost akin to a narrow full-back on either side, and even then he still employed two wingers higher up the pitch.
Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 is an inherently attacking formation that aims to take the game to Chile’s opponents, press and defend high up the pitch, and stretch the play as wide as possible when in possession. His back three and the holding midfielder are essentially the four defensive-minded players, whilst the two wing-backs surge forward whenever possible, trying to create overloads against opposition full-backs, and also venturing into more central attacking positions to provide a goal threat.
The team is more or less split into two units. The 4 defensive players comprising the three defenders and the defensive midfielder and the 6 attacking players comprising the two wing backs, a box to box midfielder. 2 defensive wingers and a defensive forward. As Bielsa himself outlines, the idea was to play the game in your opponents half of the pitch, hold a high defensive line and press your opponent very aggressively. An attacking but physically demanding system to employ.
This is not a plug 'n' play system so please don't expect to download it and win everything from the Premier League to the Champions League to the Grand National and The X Factor. This is about enbedding a culture into your club to play aggressive controlled attacking football. I always set my clubs up so that my reserves and youth teams play the same systems as my senior team. This is how Barca have set up and it seems to be working for them. I find it works best if you recruit young players with high work rate and intelligence skills to use.
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