Pep vs Jose: Ahead of the Manchester derby, a look back on every head-to-head battle between Mourinho and Guardiola
The intense, vehement personal disdain for each other somehow transcended possibly the most visceral rivalry in all of sports, and now, three years on, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will resume hostilities in the Manchester derby on Saturday as the football world watches with bated breath.
It is almost impossible to recall a showdown between Manchester’s clubs being so eagerly anticipated.
So early in the season it could be argued, superficially at least, that the outcome of Saturday’s early game at Old Trafford will not have any great bearing on either side’s quest for the title.
That said, such arguments are easily dismissed as vacuous or lacking an appreciation for the psychological edge a victory could bring these clubs in the midst of a renaissance.
Indeed, should a winner emerge, they will, if only for a matter of 24 hours, be sitting pretty atop the burgeoning table.
United, Chelsea and City have each accrued a perfect nine points to date, but the latter are the current league leaders on goal difference.
Antonio Conte’s men meet Swansea on Sunday and, surely, the Italian will be watching closely as events unfold in Manchester.
But really, in all honesty, it is the thought of Guardiola and Mourinho -arguably the two greatest coaches on earth - once more sharing a touchline, being forced to interact, pitting their keen intellects against one another that elevates this contest to box office proportions.
Guardiola, the dapper, reserved purist, and the greatest exponent of the tiki-taka, going head-to-head with the master antagonist, ferociously committed to domination through the most practical of means.
Each man has spent big and culled the herd since taking control of clubs in desperate need of inspiration and refinement, so ceding ground now is likely an unthinkable prospect
Over the course of two embittered seasons in Spain, while guiding Barcelona and Real Madrid, Guardiola and Mourinho brought out the very best and worst in each other and, without fail, it made for compelling viewing.
With that being said, the records reflect a glaring disparity between the pair. It should be noted that Mourinho never forgave Barcelona for snubbing him in favour of Guardiola in 2008, a slight he could not palate.
At the time, Guardiola had just a year's worth of coaching under his belt with the Barcelona B team, while the Portuguese had guided Porto to a Champions League title and the UEFA Cup, and just come off a gilded period with Chelsea.
However, of all 11 fixtures in Spain, Guardiola won five, drew four and lost just two.
La Liga, November 2010, Barcelona 5 Real Madrid 0
Mourinho’s inaugural El Clasico proved an exercise in humiliation. David Villa bagged a brace, while Xavi, Pedro and Jeffren each found the net.
La Liga, April 2011, Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 1
The Bernabeu draw was the first of four showdowns between the sides over the course of a fortnight. Lionel Messi and Cristiano each scored from the spot.
Copa Del Rey final, April 2011, Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 0
More silverware for the Mourinho collection as Ronaldo’s strike was sufficient to secure the Copa Del Rey.
Champions League semi final first leg, April 2011, Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 2
On a night of great vitriol, both Mourinho and Pepe were red carded before Messi struck twice late on and tipped the scales in Barce’s favour ahead of the second leg at the Nou Camp.
Champions League semi final second leg, April 2011, Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 1
Pedro and Marcello were on target for the hosts and guests respectively, and Barcelona moved on to the final in Wembley, where they would beat, funnily enough, Manchester United.
Spanish Super Cup first leg, August 2011, Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 2
Mesut Ozil got Madrid off the mark before Villa and Messi turned the tables in the Catalans’ favour. Xabi Alonso levelled the tie ahead of a second leg that would descend into chaos.
Spanish Super Cup second leg, August 2011, Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 3
Forgetting the five goals for a moment, this entry to the annals yielded three red cards and nine yellows and, just to ensure a complete breakdown in civility, Mourinho poked the now late Tito Villanova in the eye.
With score at 2-2, Messi, as is his wont, conjured the decisive goal in the dying embers of utterly ugly spectacle.
La Liga, December 2011, Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 3
Karim Benzema gave Madrid the best possible start by netting the fastest goal in El Clasico history. However, Guardiola switched tack, and Alexis Sanchez, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas broke Real hearts.
Copa Del Rey quarter final first leg, Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 2
Once again Madrid took the lead, this time through Ronaldo, but Barcelona, thanks to goals from Carlos Puyol and Eric Abidal, prevailed on another ill-tempered night.
Copa Del Rey quarter final second leg, Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 2
Madrid overturned a two-goal deficit but were unable to produce the vital third as Barcelona further emphasised their dominance.
La Liga, April 2012, Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 2
A rare win for Los Blancos, who caught Barcelona in a vulnerable state, having just been eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea in the penultimate round. Ronaldo registered the winner and Madrid went on to clinch La Liga.
Mourinho's finest moment ?
It might be difficult to fathom now, but Jose Mourinho was once an assistant, and before that a translator. He served under the late Bobby Robson at Barcelona as an interpreter but the former England boss soon widened his remit to certain coaching roles
At the Nou Camp, Mourinho also learned at the knee of the man he succeeded at Manchester United, Louis van Gaal.
Given his history with club and success he achieved upon striking out on is own, you could see why Mourinho was slightly miffed when Guardiola was appointed as Frank Rijkaard’s replacement.
Scorned, he moved Italy and assumed control at Inter Milan, where he won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, and the Supercoppa Italiana.
He had to wait two years but Mourinho took his vengeance on the biggest stage of all.
Inter were drawn in the same Champions League group as Barce in the 2009-10 campaign, during which the sides would finish in stalemate at the San Siro before the latter won 2-0 at the Nou Camp.
They would meet again in the semi final. In the first leg on home soil, Inter romped to a 3-1 victory as Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito scored after Pedro had given Barcelona an early lead.
The return leg at the Nou Camp was a volcanic affair. Thiago Motta was sent off after just 25 minutes but Inter dug deep. Gerard Piqué’s late strike couldn’t help Barcelona’s cause and, upon the final whistle, Mourinho roved through the pitch, pumping his fists and sent the home support into an unbridled frenzy.
Inter would win the competition at the expense of Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich, completing another treble for Mourinho before he departed for Madrid.
Saturday should be interesting