Pep Guardiola v Marcelo Bielsa – Betting On The Tactical Titans
By Leonard Solms
After a difficult start to yet another Premier League season, the still mighty Manchester City travel to Leeds United on Saturday. This Elland Road encounter will see Pep Guardiola come up against Marcelo Bielsa, a tactician for whom he has made no secret of his admiration.
Guardiola was winding down his playing career at AS Roma when his team-mate, Gabriel Batistuta, recommended he visit Bielsa to help kick-start his coaching career. This according to Tim Rich’s The Quality of Madness: A Life of Marcelo Bielsa.
The biography claims that Guardiola travelled 5,000 miles to meet Bielsa in 2006 and was utterly enthralled. Bielsa influenced Guardiola so much that he even adopted the Argentine’s approach to dealing with the press — shunning exclusive interviews in favour of press conferences to ensure that all journalists are accommodated fairly.
Guardiola has since described Bielsa as “the best coach in the world” due to the lasting impact he leaves on those under his tutelage. The tactical intricacies of this match-up go beyond what the layman’s eyes can tell, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to bet on it.
City have seen goals at both ends in five of their last six fixtures in all competitions. Meanwhile, Leeds have seen BTTS in three of their last four.
The last eight games involving Guardiola’s charges have seen a total of three goals or more. Leeds, meanwhile, saw seven in each of their first two Premier League fixtures before a 1-0 win away to Sheffield United.
What these trends suggest is that there will likely be lots of goals in this game. This is made even more probable by the fact that Manchester City lost their last game 5-2 to Leicester. Recent history suggests that when they slip up, there is usually a backlash.
City have not lost consecutive league games since December 2018, when they slipped up against Crystal Palace and Leicester. The only other time they have lost two on the spin in the Guardiola era was December 2016, when they went down to Chelsea and Leicester.
It is surely nothing more than coincidence that Leicester have featured in both of City’s two-game losing runs under Guardiola. The general trend has been that when they lose, they subsequently raise their game.
They are, however, unlikely to have it easy against Leeds, who have picked up 25 points in their last nine league games at Elland Road in the Premier League and Championship combined.
Patrick Bamford sits joint fourth on the Premier League goalscoring charts with three goals from as many games this season.
City conceded three goals to Leicester from penalties in their last game and Mateusz Klich will be hoping for another horror show at the back for them. He has already scored twice this season including once from the spot.
All signs point to a high-scoring game and BTTS & Over 2.5 goals is offering 1.83.
A Manchester City win and over 3.5 goals offers superb value for money at 2.30. Despite Leeds’ impressive start to the season, the Citizens are still most likely to pick up the three points.
There are plenty of options available, but our advice is to expect plenty of goals in this fixture and plan accordingly.