Bielsa settles on first-choice XI ahead of season kick-off against Trabzonspor

Marcelo Bielsa is understood to have settled on a preferred starting XI in preparation for the 2011-12 season that starts with Thursday’s Europa League play-off tie against Trabzonspor.

Mundo Deportivo report that Bielsa separated the players he is likely to start against the Turkish side, as the Basques look to improve upon 2009-10’s Round of 32 performance in the competition.

The Argentine-born Coach has spent the pre-season campaign introducing a new tactical set-up to the side that has brought with it plenty of attention from the media, in anticipation of seeing a similar entertaining style of play to Bielsa’s Chile and Argentina teams.

Preparing for Thursday, Bielsa’s work with the perceived first XI centred on passing and control accuracy, off-the-ball movement and separated group work on defensive or attacking phases of play. Through the team’s friendlies and training sessions, the semblance of a starting line-up in Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 formation looks to be taking shape.

However, Iberian Press have for the first time criticised the Coach, in light of a disappointing end to pre-season that culminated in three defeats and a draw, the final game being a 2-0 reverse to lower League Lemona. Bielsa has dismissed the scorelines as being a result of the intentional pre-season method of not giving the players the usual breaks between each game, to build fitness rather than maintain it.

The versatile Oscar De Marcos – thought of as a forward-minded player, but caught in full-back positions in some games during pre-season – reiterated the sense of belief in the dressing room of working with Bielsa that is carried into the team’s first game of the season.

The 22-year-old spoke at a Press conference this week to say: “We would hate to be knocked out at this stage after the hard work from last year and this summer.

“We’re still working to correct the mistakes from the match against Valladolid [a 2-2 draw last week], but I imagine the ‘mister’ will have analysed the videos on Trabzonspor, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses,” before joking: “We wouldn’t be anywhere without videos.”

Probable XI (3-3-1-3): Iraizoz; San Jose, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe; Martinez, Gurpegi, Iturraspe; Herrera; Muniain, Gabilondo, Llorente

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