For the first time in a while, the two master tacticians – Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola – meet in a domestic league game. In truth though, there is little difference nowadays between meeting in the league and meeting in the Champion’s League, the latter being an impossibility until next season, at least.
People will say, ” it’s different when it’s a league game,” or “it’s not the same as in a knockout tournament.” Actually, there are many similarities. Both would want to win their home game in both competitions but would, grudgingly, take not losing as a pretty close second choice. Both would want a point, or a draw, depending upon the competition and which stage has been reached, from the away game.
The approach to the playing of the games themselves will also not be markedly different. Again people will suggest that they will play different ways in different tournaments. Why would they? It’s two games against top opposition. Why would the competition name make any difference?
Jose Mourinho knows how Pep Guardiola likes to play and vice versa. It would be very naive to think that they haven’t done any homework on the individual players but the tactics employed by one manager should not come as a surprise to the other one.
So whether it be Barcelona against Real Madrid in La Liga, Bayern Munich against Chelsea in the Champion’s League, it is really all about the two managers and how they will set their teams up to play. All that has changed is the personnel.
Mourinho’s record against Guardiola does not make very happy reading for the Portuguese. Of the eighteen times they have met, Jose has managed just three wins, giving him a win percentage of 18.8%. In fairness, two of his three wins were quite important ones. One was when his Inter Milan team knocked out Barcelona on the way to winning the Champion’s League in 2010 and another was twelve months later when, as manager of Real Madrid, he beat Barcelona in the final of the Copa Del Rey.
As far as trophies won are concerned then the comparison between the two is a lot closer. Here’s how things stand at present:
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So, as you can see, things are quite close between the two trophy-wise, but Guardiola must have a superiority complex when it comes down to the head to head record.
When it comes to derby games though, Guardiola does not have a lot of experience. Yes, he has experienced the atmosphere of the Barcelona versus Real Madrid encounters but, at the end of the day, this is not a derby game, the two cities are not far short of 400 miles apart!
Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, has experienced countless London derbies which, admittedly, have an effect which is diluted purely by the number of derby games in the capital. He also has experience of the Milan derby which is one of the biggest on the planet. Add to this his run-ins with Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid and his derby game experience is far greater to that of Pep Guardiola.
Will this be a deciding, or even a contributing, factor? It is highly doubtful as the derby match atmosphere may be unique but it is not one with which Pep Guardiola is incapable of dealing.
The outcome of the game will depend, ultimately, on the players selected and their ability and desire to carry out their manager’s instructions.
As for predictions, this one is too close to call. The managers have similar records, the two squads have similar qualities. Manchester United should have a small advantage because the game is being played at Old Trafford and, in one aspect where the league IS different from the cup competitions, the away team will only be allocated around three thousand tickets. Don’t, however, let this fool you into thinking that there will only be 3,000 Manchester City fans present, there will be a lot more.
The original article can be found on the excellent Why Say Anything?
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