Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has praised Chelsea and Manchester City for reaching the Champions League final – and has provided a long list of the rich qualities the English boasts as well as the quality of its footballers.
For the second time in three seasons, it will be an all-Englsh Champions League final. City booked their place after a 4-1 aggregate win over PSG. And they were joined on Wednesday night by Chelsea after a 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) win over Real Madrid.
There is also the possibility of an all-English final in the Europa League too with Arsenal hoping to join Manchester United. The Red Devils hold a 6-2 lead over Roma going into Thursday’s second leg.
Bielsa was asked if European dominance reflects the quality on offer in the Premier League. And the Leeds boss admitted the English game had so many extraordinary qualities.
“I have a lot of admiration and respect for what the English league has done structurally,” Bielsa started. “There are aspects that they have considered, the authorities have multiplied their greatness and I can summarise it quickly. It gives me pleasure to name it.
“The refereeing in England can be better or worse, but never compensates. They always try to penalise those who speculate and make the rules favour the game. This helps the stricture in which the game receives the participants. It can’t be better.
“Considering, for example, the pitches the game is played on. And I’ve not even talked about the influence of the fans.”
Bielsa also had strong words for the quality of football in the second tier. He reckons the relegation battle in the Championship illustrates the strength of the top two divisions.
“The third thing is how the financial power does not determine things. The greatness in the English game is the competitiveness of the leagues. Assimilation of the natural results produced. I say this because the relegation places in the Championship.
“This is being played out with no interruption from anybody to look in a bad sense.”
Bielsa highlights outstanding five stars
England will go into the European Championships among the favourites to win.
And while Bielsa was making no predictions, he feels the outstanding crop of young players gives them hope.
“Another thing fundamental is what the authorities have done to develop the young players. English football has 10 measures which is no point me mentioning. They capitalise on their qualities.
“The young players for England at the moment, are players who compete at the highest level at just 20-years-old. Comparably with the powerful nations in the world it’s very good.
“When the end of the great players in the last decade comes and England has a different panorama, the players are shining right now.”
The Leeds boss did not name names; however, he feels there are five stand-out young stars shining bright in the English game.
“Very few nations have five attackers like those England have right now. I am referring to wingers, strikers and offensive midfielders. All of this is not casual, it’s stimulated, induced and does not depend only on money, but the ideas in which the money is situated.”
Having analysed Bielsa’s comments, we feel the Leeds boss is pointing to the following: Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Jude Bellingham.