Sunday 24 September 2017

'Pep' concedes defeat after off-field battle with 'Jose' gets personal

Paul Logothetis

Jose Mourinho's off-field tactics appear to be taking a toll on Pep Guardiola as the normally composed Barcelona coach snapped last night, launching a tirade of expletives against his Real Madrid counterpart ahead of their Champions League semi-final.

Mourinho, speaking earlier yesterday, had accused Guardiola of going too far in criticising the nationality of a referee for Wednesday's first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Mourinho said Guardiola's allegation that referee Pedro Proenca would play out well for the fellow Portuguese coach meant: "We now enter a new phase of criticising the origin of a referee. I've never seen this before."

While German referee Wolfgang Stark was finally appointed for tonight's game, Guardiola did not take kindly to Mourinho's remarks, including allegations that calls often seem to go Barcelona's way since a semi-final victory at Chelsea in 2009 when a late penalty was not given.

Master

"He's the (expletive) boss, the (expletive) master and I can't compete with him at any instant," Guardiola said at the Bernabeu. "Off the field he's already beaten me. I gift him this off-field Champions League prize, I hope he takes it home and enjoys it.

"I'd remind him that we worked together for four years."

Guardiola was a player when Mourinho was an assistant with the Catalan club in the late 1990s.

Any love between the pair has been lost since last year's semi-final when Mourinho's Inter Milan knocked Barcelona out at this same stage, with the Portuguese coach hitting out at Barcelona's obsession of winning the Champions League at the Bernabeu.

The pressure of four 'Clasicos' in 18 days may also be taking their toll, especially as Mourinho's Madrid finally beat a Guardiola-coached Barcelona team at the seventh attempt.

Guardiola was so animated that at one point when asked about Mourinho in English, that he reverted to Spanish because he was so flustered.

Guardiola said he had to respond after Mourinho made it personal earlier on Tuesday by calling him "Pep".

"I respond to him because it's the first time he says 'Pep' -- we normally talk in general terms and it's the first time he says 'Pep' so I say 'Jose'.

"I have to respond," Guardiola said.

"If Barca want someone to compete (in news conferences) then they should hire another coach. As a person and as an institution we don't do that."

Irish Independent

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