The attraction towards a Marcelo Bielsa side starts at first sight. You spot them from far away. Driving their Fiat 147. All pony tails and pressing. It takes your breath away.
It takes the opponent’s breath as well. The uniqueness of his style makes his teams standout. They might not be Spanish or English champions. No trophies or winning streaks, yet they always offer joy and memories. Present joy, and future memories.
You then start to develop feelings once you see them in all white, making runs beyond the opposition’s lines. Astonished by the pace, you can barely catch them to have a small chat.
Chat about the Premier League table maybe and how they are 10th. You spot an opportunity, prepare your game-plan, approach closely. Then bam! They are off and running.
It was Crystal Palace next on their list. In their orthodox formation — despite a brief start in a back three, Leeds United attacked with an unorthodox strategy. Overloading the right side with Stuart Dallas and Mateusz Klich teaming up with Raphinha and Luke Ayling. The main purpose of that was to disrupt Palace’s two banks of four.
Klich initially started from his designated position in midfield….
….then made a run across to overload the right side. His run here is untracked by Palace’s two central midfielders, Luka Milivojevic and Jairo Riedewald, who are busy following the ball. Meanwhile, Ayling’s width is forcing Tyrick Mitchell out, creating a gap in Palace’s defensive line.
So that once Raphinha is preparing for the forward pass, Klich is attacking that gap waiting for the pass from the Brazilian. Raphinha sadly chose the Ayling option, and the pass was over-hit.
Klitch kept overloading the right side with passing combinations between Dallas, Raphinha and Ayling already causing Palace problems.
The overload this time from Klich drags Gary Cahill out of position, opening a different gap in Palace’s defensive line for Dallas this time to attack.
Raphinha spotted Dallas’ run, and played the ball towards the space. Ayling also was making a run behind Dallas…..
….that was for the next appearing gap. Because Milivojevic was free initially, he managed to track Dallas’ run but the trick was on him. Their were two runners, Dallas and Ayling. The move was inch perfect, only Dallas’ weak header stopped the ball from reaching Ayling.
By the second half, Cahill had noticed Klich’s movements and the Polish midfielder’s positioning was worrying him….
….that he opted to keep his position instead of covering for Mitchell, Palace’s left back. Cahill keeping his position here after checking twice over his shoulder to know where Klich was, allowed Raphinha to find Ayling into the free space behind Palace’s defence.
From there, Ayling was free to cross. Bamford’s header though, was too weak.
Even when Dallas and Klich switched positions, the right side overload was still coming. Klich’s positioning here drags Cahill out again.
But Klich was already on the right side. The midfield run came from Dallas who started on the left, but was going towards the right side to find the space. A penetrative Raphinha pass here would have put Dallas through on goal.
It didn’t come as the Brazilian passed it directly into Andros Townsend. Dallas made the perfect run, and he was in the perfect position exploiting a gap between Palace’s center-backs.
It was in the third minute of the game that the overloads were fruitful. Dallas and Klich’s positioning on the right side tilted Palace’s central midfield, allowing Jack Harrison to move into the free central space in-front of the penalty box.
From there he managed to score Leeds’ first goal of the evening with Milivojevic and Riedewald late to defend their central space.
The right side overloads disrupted Palace’s defence and midfield, managing to penetrate their compact lines.
By the time you catch them to express your affection, they are already on a 5,000 miles road trip of Argentina.