Bielsa explains why he took sub Rodrigo off; has high praise for Chelsea

Date published: Saturday 13th March 2021 3:29 - James Marshment

Marcelo Bielsa shouts orders Leeds v Chelsea

Marcelo Bielsa commended his Leeds side after they showed an “enormous effort” to hold Chelsea to a draw – and has defended himself for substituting the substitute in the case of Rodrigo Moreno.

Visiting Chelsea carved out several openings at Elland Road, with Illan Meslier repelling all that came his way. However, it was their keeper Edouard Mendy who made two outstanding saves to keep Leeds at bay.

Asked if he was happy with a draw, Bielsa admitted his side had their work cut out to earn the point.

“Evidently, we played against a team superior to ours,” Bielsa said. “In the second half especially, in the first half less. We did what was necessary to play a balanced game.

“At the end of the game, the chances of both teams were similar. It’s true the superiority they showed in the first half was superior to what we showed in the second half. To play a game like we did, we had to make an enormous effort.

Leeds lost Patrick Bamford to injury after 35 minutes, with record signing Rodrigo coming on in his place. However, the Spain international was withdrawn himself on 79.

Asked why he had done that, Bielsa simply blamed the player’s lack of match sharpness. Having missed a chunk of games recently, Rodrigo only made his return against West Ham on Monday night.

“The period in the first half and second half, while we made efforts superior to those he’s capable of after being out for 40 days,” he said. “Not only physically, but match fitness. I value a lot how he was able to perform around 50 minutes he’s played. Although he’s healthy and physically fit, the work he needs with the ball is still required.”

Asked if he will explain the decision to Rodrigo, Bielsa continued: “I comment to you what I have already said.

“The contribution of what Rodrigo did was above what he’s capable of at the moment. More than apologise to him I have to thank him for his contribution on the pitch because I insist because the contributions he made do not correspond to where he’s at in his return.”

Tyler Roberts was named Man of the Match and enjoyed one of his best games in the Premier League. He saw a goal chalked off for offside and was denied another by a world-class save from Mendy.

Asked if he was happy with Roberts, he added: “Yes, but the game today showed an evolution from Tyler in his game, as a nine and as a 10.”

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Bielsa gives thoughts on Chelsea

Bielsa was asked if the result was more pleasing for Leeds given the strength of the opposition. And the Argentine had plenty of praise for the threat that Thomas Tuchel’s side pose.

Jorginho, Tyler Roberts, Leeds v Chelsea

“What makes a team like Chelsea so fearful is for the four positions in attack, the two wide men, striker and one behind – they are able to count on two players for each position,” he said. “The most difficult thing in football is positions in attack. Not easy to face these teams.

“We made a big, big effort so the game would not become unbalanced. It was a slight domination from us in the second half. More clear dominance from them in the first. Offensive production of each team was similar. Difficult to achieve. If you take for example the last game they played, first proper chance they conceded in that game was the 90th minute. For us, to have provoked five or six is very good.”

READ MORE: Tuchel defends Havertz, but appears unhappy at state of Leeds pitch


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