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Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho: The Ultimate Comparison

Guardiola and Mourinho have been at war for more than a decade now. The spoils at stake? Modern-day football's soul. Let's get into how this developed into one of the best stories in sports!

Last updated: 27.09.2019
Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho: The Ultimate Comparison | Sports Social Blog

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On one hand, we have the discipline of Johan Cruff, a believer in the all-conquering principle of this beautiful game. His nemesis embraces the dark arts- a lord of undeniably effective anti-football. This rivalry dates all the way back to the late '90s, in the era of Sir Bobby Robson's Spell at FC Barcelona when Pep Guardiola was already the club captain. The legendary English manager decided to bring a translator to the club and Mourinho was the man selected for the job due to how complete his reports were about rival squad and players. Robson saw potential in the Portuguese assistant and decided to take a chance with him. Little did he know that he gave Jose Mourinho the very first opportunities to become a manager. That's the time when both he and Pep Guardiola met for the first time. 

During that period Mourinho developed a warm relationship with Guardiola as they together won several important trophies in the club's history. But Mourinho wanted to make his own story. He wanted to become a professional manager. And went back to his native Portugal to try his luck at Porto. Both Mourinho and Guardiola's path separated soon after that, without any of them knowing that competition would bring them together many years later. Mourinho tasted his share of success before Guardiola even started his studies to become a manager. The Portuguese became one of the best as he won the Champions League with FC Porto and transformed Chelsea into a force to be reckoned with on the World Map. Jose was doing everything possible to be noticed by FC Barcelona, his experience in the Catalan club left him with a burning desire to coach the squad and he considered it as a life goal. 

But as fate would have it, Mourinho would never manage Barcelona. It all happened in the summer of 2008 when the Barca board decided to give the charge to a relatively inexperienced Pep Guardiola as the club's manager instead of Jose Mourinho. Thus marking a starting point to this remarkable rivalry. President Joan Laporta later explained that the Portuguese manager didn't share the same philosophy as they were looking for, one which Guardiola was born with. The rejection that Mourinho felt was the reason he vowed to beat the best Barcelona in football's history, the one that Pep Guardiola managed. Let's get into the finest of details of this compelling story:


Their first meeting as managers:

The first meeting between Guardiola and Mourinho turned out to be a typically intriguing tactical battle as Inter and Barcelona played out a goalless draw at the San Siro. However, in the reverse fixture, the Catalan club beat them comfortably at the Camp Nou by two goals to none. The hosts were without Messi and Ibrahimovic but Xavi picked Mourinho's men apart. After the game, Mourinho admitted that they were beaten by a better team on that day but stressed on certain cracks in the Barcelona side. He said, 'if you told me Inter will face Barca in the semi-finals, I will accept it already.` More drama was to unfold as Mourinho got his wish and Inter did come up against Barcelona in the semi-finals. And this time they emerged victorious. Inter took a commanding 3-1 lead in the first leg at the San Siro. But everyone knew that the tie was far from over. The Spanish club was ruthless in their own backyard. In a game that is touted by many as the greatest achievement of Jose's career, Mourinho's side held on to a 3-2 aggregate victory over Barcelona. Although they lost the second leg 0-1, it meant more than a victory for 10-men Inter. And in this way, climbing the biggest hurdle en route to a memorable treble. 

Those el Clasico classics:

The rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho hit a whole new height in 2010 when Mourinho was appointed as the new Real Madrid boss. During the next two seasons, as the pair looked for domestic and European honours, their relationship turned ugly. A thumping 5-0 victory in the first el Clasico for Barcelona handed a head-start for the Spaniard. But it would be a run of four meetings in just under two weeks from mid-April as they faced each other in the League, Copa Del Rey and the UCL. A 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu all but assured Barcelona of the league title. However Real clinched the Copa Del Rey in just four days time to end their 18-year-wait for the Spanish Cup. In the next season, Mourinho's men denied Barcelona of a league title as they claimed a record 100 points over the 38 games. Their counter-attacking play was so pleasing to the eye that people relate to it as the pinnacle of counter-attack in football. 

Guardiola vs Mourinho All-Time XI: 

Guardiola's All-Time XI:

Extreme leadership at centre-back. Some tough calls though. Phillip Lahm or Dani Alves? Robert Lewandowski or Sergio Aguero? Even Sergio Busquests, David Silva and Thomas Muller haven't made the cut. 

Mourinho's All-Time XI:

Choosing between Iker Casillas, Petr Cech, Julio Cesar, and David De Gea makes one realize how ridiculous good Mourinho's keepers have been. De Gea has an edge due to his heroics for the Reds and more because no other United player Makes the team. Sergio Ramos has to start from the bench because Ricardo Carvalho was immense under Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid. 

Tactical comparison: 

While both managers have enjoyed their fair share of success, they are completely opposite of one another. While Pep believes in the wide attack, he uses the full-backs in all his attacks, of which most of them start from wide positions. Mourinho stresses on his strategy to keep the defence intact, narrowing the pathway for the opponent to break the defensive line. Pep's ground passing has always been great, be it Barcelona or Bayern Munich or even Manchester City. Mourinho looks for the occasional long balls with the likes of Xabi Alonso and Pogba feeding it to Benzema and Ibrahimovic respectively. Pep's gameplay is more of a possession-based attack while Mourinho stresses on counter-attacking football. Pep is a genius but Mourinho would get the better out of an average team. He won the UCL with Porto While Pep cannot win it with Bayern Munich. One may look pleasing to the eye, but the other could prove to be more effective. They have defined this era. Love them or hate them. Prefer one or the other. Doesn't matter. They are generational. The Special One and the philosopher. 

They have a strong influence on the way that football is being played today. Let's wait until the next chapter of this story unfolds!

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