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Murderball – The destructive technique of Marcelo Bielsa

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By Facundo Di Bona (@facudibona).

Leeds have had some very good years of recovery: from fighting relegation in the Championship to being champion, returning to the Premier League and maintaining the category. This is due to a great sports management and a very good performance of the players, but what was it that gave Marcelo Bielsa that impression of an intense team that drove locals and experts crazy?

Marcelo Bielsa has always been characterized as a coach whose head goes off for perfection. He cannot leave anything to chance. His work philosophy is to be aware of absolutely everything. In his head, the ‘Crazy’ created an unrivaled training technique. He capable of making any player out of his mind. Intense like something never seen before.

Murderball is an exercise of intensity and ball. The technique consists of not stopping playing. Literally. They are 11 vs 11 as in a normal soccer practice, but without sides, or corners. Assistants of Marcelo Bielsa are positioned outside the court and make the ball quickly return to the field. Thus, the players do not stop. It’s 25 minutes of total suffocation. Of intensity.

Patrick Bamford: “It started with an 11v11 where there are cones in the positions of each player and, when the ball goes out, you have to go back to your cone and then play again. It’s hard. It took me 4 or 5 weeks to get up to speed, but it makes the game lighter”.


Liam Cooper: “We do 4-5 minute segments with the staff throwing the ball in as soon as it comes out. It is all man by man. There is no escape. The games seem easier than training”.


Robin Koch: “My first Murderball was on my second day at Leeds. After doing it, I thought, ’What the fuck am I doing here?”.


We do not know if you live how you play, but we are sure that Leeds plays as they train. The team led by Marcelo is not in a great season from the numbers, but let’s not forget that it has been the team that runs the most in the Premier League. In what sense? It is the one that runs the most in quantity and distance. Always counting the sprints. It is still the leader of these metrics when it comes to high intensity, one notch below sprint. It is not only the best in England. It is the team that runs the most in the world. See the difference with the other Premier League teams. It is abysmal.

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