How an ex-blogger guided Salzburg to the Europa League quarter-finals

Football is quite conservative and barred from outsiders.

First you should play football, then go to coaching courses, become a coach, or you could choose the way of a scout or an agent. There is no door in football world you cannot walk through if you used to play on a high level.

Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco who currently coaches Schalke 04 are key faces of football revolution, a new generation, which shows and proves that the concept of ‘football coach’ has nothing to do with a great experience of playing football on a professional level.

Behind their backs, in the shadows, there is a man with an even more incredible story, one of the youngest professional coaches in the world: 25-year-old Rene Maric. This spring, together with Marco Rose, he brought FC Red Bull Salzburg to the Europa League quarter-finals, having examined to pieces Borussia Dortmund’s tactics and playing style.

However, this was not the first time he did it.

In 2011 while he was still in school, Maric together with his friend created a website (like 365bettingtips.com), where they meticulously analyzed the course of football games.

These two boys were only 19 years old when they met Mainz 05 head coach Thomas Tuchel. He was impressed by their analysis of his team’s game against Bavaria and wanted to find out how they did it.

Two geeks who were writing about football tactics met a professional coach and got a job! It sounds like a dream of any football blogger: a well-known coach reads your posts and invites you to an interview.

In the summer of 2012, this dream came true for two students. Thomas was so shocked by their knowledge that immediately offered a job – to analyze the rivals of Mainz in the Bundesliga. Of course, it was really silly to refuse, but Maric was very surprised to receive this proposal.

“It looks like, we knew enough about football to discuss tactics with a specialist like Tuchel!” – wondered Rene.

Since then many positive changes have taken place: Maric wrote several books about football tactics, worked as an analyst in Brentford and Midtjylland. Not surprisingly as these clubs can also be called reformers – they were among the first who started applying mathematical models and advanced statistics.

Rene Maric scouted for Bayer Leverkusen and worked with Dutch coach Marinus Dijkhuizen in Excelsior. “This was the first time in my career. The guy knew more about my team than I did” – wrote Marinus.

In 2014, Maric sliced and diced the game of the youth team of Salzburg in his article and it looks more like a dissertation.

And so began his relationship with Marco Rose, then head coach of Salzburg U18 team. Their constant discussions about training methods and full-pitch-press led to the fact that Rene Maric became an assistant coach of Salzburg U19 team in 2016.

A year later, they won the UEFA Youth League. As a reward, Marco Rose was promoted, taking with him young Maric, and now they are writing a new page in football history.

The numbers clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the formations developed by Maric – this season alone, only 5% of the Salzburg rivals` organized attack has ended in a shot on goal. Incredible as it may seem, but young Rene Maric started his internet project only to learn more about football.

Seven years have passed since then, and now Rene together with Marco Rose prepares his team for the game against Lazio in the 1/4 finals of Europa League devoid of any football playing experience.

 

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