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Football: Tactical Analysis – Marcelo Bielsa’s 5 tactical ways to lose a Defender/Receiver

In 2016, at his Aspire Academy presentation in Amsterdam, Marcelo Bielsa outlined the five (5) tactical ways he has observed in which a player can lose their individual marker through movement off the ball in order to receive.

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Reception with Rotation

Marcelo Bielsa explains that the receiving player checks towards the ball-carrier to lose their marker before receiving on the half tum or controlling then turning. In the examples that Marcelo Bielsa shows, players drop into space from the opposition’s last line, an example being a centre forward dropping in between the lines.

Marcelo Bielsa's 5 ways to lose a DefenderReceiver

READ: Three of the Most Common Football Tactics Explained

Receiving Behind the Opponent

Marcelo Bielsa talks about the need to attract the opponent through a first movement and to ideally be on the same line as the opponent before making movement behind.

In each of the examples, the receiving player makes their run on the blind side of the defender related to the ball, which causes more difficulty for the marker.

Receiving Behind the Opponent


Receiving to the Side of the Opponent.

Here Marcelo Bielsa talks about the receiving player opening up to the side of the marker on the same line.

The examples that he shows are mostly with the receiving player on the last line of the opposition. A good example is a centre forward moving laterally away from a centre back waiting to make movement beyond the last line.

Receiving to the Side of the Opponent.


Marcelo Bielsa talks about the ball-carrier passing the ball in the path of the defender closest to the receiving player, with the receiving player coming across the defender and receiving the ball across the defender on the move. He refers to this as a very ‘Messi move.”


Receiving Behind the Opponent with an Aerial Pass

The receiving player can start in the same vertical or lateral line as the defender, then looks to draw the defender toward the ball carrier before running in behind. In the examples shown by Bielsa, he talks about this particular movement being used by wingers as a way to get in behind the last line of the opposition.

Receiving Behind the Opponent with an Aerial Pass


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