It seems clear that Manchester is going to rule the Premier League in the near future.
Both United and City have made excellent acquisitions over the summer, they have both started the campaign with maximum points and they’re both tipped for glory. Oh, and they happen to have two of the best managers in the world at their respective helms.
There’s no love lost Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, the managers who have faced each other on no less than 16 occasions. In case you weren’t keeping score, Pep has the upper hand in the rivalry, with seven wins compared to Mou’s three.
Here’s the top 5 occasions on which the two Manchester managers have clashed in the past…
5. Inter Milan 3-1 Barcelona, April 2010
Pep and Mou first crossed paths during the 2009-10 Champions League campaign, where Barcelona and Inter Milan were drawn in the same group. The first meeting was a goalless draw at the San Siro, while the Blaugrana dominated the return fixture with a 2-0 win.
The Special One conceded defeat and vowed to seek revenge if the teams met again in the knockout rounds. That meeting came in the semi-final stage—and Inter put on a spectacular show in the first leg. Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito cancelled out Pedro’s opener to give the Italian side a 3-1 win. In the aftermath, Mourinho proudly declared: “We have beaten the best team in the world.”
Inter lost the second leg 1-0 but progressed on aggregate, marking the Nerazzurri’s first European Cup final in 38 years. The long history of Mourinho teams losing a man in a game against Pep started when Thiago Motta took an early shower in the first half. “It’s the most beautiful defeat of my life,” Mourinho said, shortly after labelling it the greatest moment in his career.
Of course, Inter beat Louis van Gaal’s Bayern Munich in the final, matching Barca’s historic European treble of the previous season.
4. Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona, April 2011
Pep and Mou met 11 times while they were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. In April 2011, they met four times in the space of just 17 days as the league, Copa del Rey and Champions League fixtures conspired to heat up the rivalry.
During that four-game spate, the two managers met at the semi-final stage of the Champions League (for the second consecutive season), with Los Blancos hosting a thoroughly bad-tempered first leg.
There wasn’t too much action in the first half, but shortly after the hour mark, Pepe was sent off for a dangerous high tackle on Dani Alves. Mourinho was incensed by the decision and sent to the stands after sarcastically mouthing “well done” to the fourth official.
From this point, it became the Leo Messi show, as the diminutive forward scored the opener in the 76th minute and put the game out of reach in the 88th with a stunning solo effort that saw him stride past five white shirts before slotting past Iker Casillas.
It marked the fourth red card for a Madrid player in four Clasicos that season, and Mourinho was keen to attack his Catalan counterpart. He even suggested that their UNICEF sponsorship had helped them curry favour with the referees, while referencing their controversial semi-final victory over Chelsea in 2009:
“One day, I would like Josep Guardiola to win this competition properly. If I tell UEFA what I really think and feel, my career would end now.
“Why does a team as good as they are need something [extra] that is so obvious that everyone sees it? I don’t know if it is the UNICEF sponsorship or if it is because they are nice guys. I don’t understand. They have power and we have no chance. All I can do is leave that question here in the air and hope that one day I will get the response.”
Clearly, at this point the two managers were not friends.
3. Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid, November 2010
Mourinho’s bitter feelings towards Guardiola may have stemmed from their first ever Clasico meeting in November 2010, when the Portuguese manager suffered the biggest defeat of his career.
Madrid were on a seven-game winning streak and Mourinho was off to the greatest start of any coach in the club’s history.
Suffice to say, they felt confident heading to the Camp Nou, but they left with their tails between their legs, having conceded five unanswered goals in a Catalan masterclass. To make matters worse, Madrid finished the game with 10 men when Sergio Ramos did a Sergio Ramos on Messi.
It marked Barcelona’s biggest win since the 1993-94 season, prompting a beaming Guardiola to say: “I’m proud the whole world has seen how we play football.”
Mourinho, on the other hand, was indignant and saw his side lose the title to Barca by four points. He went five years before conceding five goals in a game again, in Tottenham’s epic 5-3 victory over Chelsea on New Years Day 2015.
2. Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid, April 2012
During his time in Spain, Mourinho continually saw Barca get the better if his Blancos, but he scored a significant victory in the closing stages of the 2011-12 season.
Sami Khedira opened the scoring after a sloppy effort from Carles Puyol, but Barca drew level through substitute Alexis Sanchez.
But late in the game, Cristiano Ronaldo converted his fourth goal in five Clasicos, inflicting Barca’s first home defeat in 55 games and sending Madrid seven points clear at the top of the table with four games remaining.
The home side looked unconvincing, perhaps a little shell-shocked from a midweek Champions League semi-final defeat at the hands of a revengeful Chelsea side a few days previously. Barca didn’t even register a shot on target until Sanchez’s goal in the 70th minute.
The win catapulted Madrid towards the title and Guardiola resigned shortly after.
Mourinho had managed to beat his foe and outlast him in La Liga. It was a big psychological victory for the man who had only won one of the other 10 Classics he had been involved in.
1. Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid, August 2011
The Spanish Super Cup is supposed to be a friendly curtain-raiser for the new season. But there was absolutely nothing friendly about the second leg of the meeting between Pep and Mou shortly before the start of the 2011-12 season.
The action-packed first leg resulted in a 2-2 draw, leaving the game delicately poised for the concluding part at the Camp Nou three days later. Barca, starting the same XI that had defeated Manchester United in the Champions League Final a few months earlier, took the lead through a spectacular Andres Iniesta effort.
It was cancelled out by Cristiano Ronaldo, but Messi put the Catalans ahead just before the break. Another Messi effort cancelled out a late Karim Benzema goal, but the stunning 5-4 aggregate victory was marred one of the most controversial sideline brawls in recent memory.
A late red card for Marcelo led to a touchline melee which saw Mourinho poke the eye of Pep’s assistant Tito Villanova. The Madrid coach subsequently refused to apologize, making his position clear through a spokesperson: “Jose will not ask for forgiveness. He firmly believes that he was defending the interests of Real Madrid.”
Barcelona were understandably upset by the incident. Gerard Pique said: “Someone has to take action on the matter. Mourinho is destroying Spanish football.”
Guardiola’s staff will be hoping to avoid any kind of eye poking at Old Trafford on Saturday.