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Twenty years after Marcelo Bielsa’s greatest failure in his career, which led to his arrival at the Chilean national team

Philip Escobillana

Korea and Japan World Cup

Marcelo Bielsa suffered elimination with Argentina in the first round of the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2022, a blow that marked him forever in his coaching career. Although he continued in the albiceleste, two years later he resigned and that experience was transferred to the Red when he took office in 2007.

Bielsa regrets the elimination with Argentina in 2002
© File, ArchiveBielsa regrets the elimination with Argentina in 2002

This June 12 marks the 20th anniversary of the greatest failure of Marcelo Bielsa in his coaching career: the elimination in the first phase of the South Korea-Japan World Cup with the Argentina national teamto which she arrived as one of the favorites due to the great tie made and the squad full of figures.

They started by winning 1-0 against Nigeria, then fell by the minimum against England and ended up leveling 1-1 with Sweden, a match that sealed the exit of the albiceleste from a World Cup where they never brought together the scorers Gabriel Batistuta and Hernán Crespo, as they were told. asked the press and the fans.

“It was very hard, the saddest locker room that I had to live in. It left me a scar for life,” Juan Pablo Sorín, left back of that cast, told Infobae that it cost him a lot to recover after that enormous frustration.

To this day in Argentina they are divided between Bielsists and anti Bielsists, because the path did not lead to success. And one of the reasons is the enormous intensity that El Loco wanted to impress on the players, at the hands of the late physical trainer Luis María Bonini.

“Bielsa had his mistakes,” forward Claudio López said on Fox. And he pointed to the preparation of the players in Europe, prior to the trip to the World Cup.

“We arrived very touched. When we were in Rome, we had a very intense training session. They were things that could be avoided and done in another way. We were loaded and many players were physically weak”, justified the striker.

exemplified that many players could not act. “The injury to Pelado (Almeyda), Caniggia and El Ratón (Ayala) were some examples. We talked about it with Professor Bonini, because we had an extraordinary bond with him. Marcelo (Bielsa), on the other hand, in one-on-one was more distant”, said the Piojo.

Ariel Ortega tells an anecdote of that day, seeing Bielsa destroyed. “I was the first to enter the locker room and Marcelo was dejected. I was also very ill. I didn’t know what to say to him. So I told him: ‘I thank you for all the talks we had’. And then he said to me: ‘What talk? You with me? We never talk.’ Later, when I told the kids, they were dying of laughter, “commented River’s idol.

Bielsa remained as DT of the albiceleste, although he left in 2004 after winning the Olympic Games. Three years later he would come to the Chilean team, turning the experience gained and giving a leap in quality to a cast that would ultimately win two Copa América, something historic for the Red.

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