Phil Hay has said that Marcelo Bielsa did something unusual in the game against Chelsea, by gambling and giving Leeds United defender Diego Llorente his debut.
Llorente came on when Robin Koch was forced off with an injury. Bielsa had said in his pre-match press conference that he didn’t want to play him until he’d had a run-out for the Under-23s.
However, the Koch injury forced his hand, despite having another option in Pascal Struijk.
Writing in a Q&A on The Athletic, one Leeds fan asked: “What did you think of Llorente’s debut? Strange to start Koch if not 100%.”
Hay replied saying, “A gamble, which is not something Bielsa does very often.
“We’ll be speaking to him shortly so should get the full story then. I thought it was tough for Llorente. Lost Giroud for the first goal and the defence was wobbly this evening.”
Llorente and Koch the future?
Struijk was given a start in the first game of the season against Liverpool, so it was a surprise to see Llorente stripped and ready to come on when Koch was forced off.
Bielsa must have thought that this Chelsea side posed such a big threat that the experienced Llorente would be the better option.
We think he did okay and he certainly exuded calm from the centre-back position. He won’t have much sterner tests than Chelsea all season and he also had to deal with abuse from the 2,000 fans after getting on their wrong side at the Bridge.
When Llorente is 100% fit and Koch is back, Bielsa will have a problem. Both Koch and Llorente are full internationals, with Germany and Spain respectively.
Could they form a partnership that would see Liam Cooper drop to the bench?
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