Monday 18 November 2019

How to beat Mourinho

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 0, May 3, 2005

To Jose Mourinho, only the supernatural prevented him defending the Champions League trophy he had won the previous year, while at Porto, in his first season at Chelsea. The Luis Garcia strike which sent Rafael Benitez's Liverpool to the final in Istanbul was, the Portuguese claimed, "a ghost goal".

"Most of that season, we played 4-4-2," recalled Garcia, now with Greek side Panathinaikos. "But in that game Rafa played a 4-4-1-1, and my main task was to block off Claude Makelele. He gave Mourinho's side great balance, getting the ball and starting attacks, and it was my job to stop him getting possession.

"Mourinho's teams counter-attack at incredible speed. If you attack them, they will hit you. The space is around the defensive pivot -- Makelele or (Xabi) Alonso -- as the other midfielders push on. It was very hard work, but winning was an incredible feeling."

Atalanta 3 Inter 1, Jan 18, 2009

Sampdoria 1 Inter 0, Sept 26, 2009

Embarrassed, Jose Mourinho had clearly let his professorial conqueror get under his skin. "How can Luigi Delneri be my bestia nera (bogeyman), when he was sacked 15 days after trying to succeed me at Porto?" the Portuguese snapped after losing for the second time in nine months to the current Juventus manager.

Delneri, in truth, makes an unlikely sparring partner. "He is special," admitted the 60-year-old. And yet Delneri plagued Mourinho in his two years in Italy. How? "Get them to think about their defence," said the Italian.

Barca 5 Madrid 0, Nov 29, 2010

Pep Guardiola's side may have produced an attacking display so mesmeric that -- as midfielder Xavi revealed later -- his players applauded themselves for an entire minute in the Nou Camp dressing-room after but, as always with Barca, it was diligence that inspired the destruction.

The intense pressing which defines Barca's style served to interrupt Real's rhythm.

"This is a victory that dates back 15 or 20 years," said Guardiola. "We owe it to everyone who has participated in bringing about this style of play over such a long time. It was not just the result that was a pleasure," said Carles Puyol. "It was the manner of the victory, the way we played. A complete performance."

Irish Independent

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