UEFA Super Cup: Mourinho vs. Guardiola, Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich

3 Comments
  • Guardiola has the edge over Mourinho all-time (7-3-5)
  • No German side has ever won the Super Cup
  • Mourinho looking for first silverware since rejoining Chelsea

On Friday night in Prague an old rivalry will be renewed at Eden Arena. José Mourinho will once again face nemesis Pep Guardiola as the former Real Madrid and Barcelona managers square off in charge of their new teams.

The European Super Cup will be played away from the usual confides of Monaco for the first-time since the trophy became a one-off game at a neutral venue in 1998. For those not familiar with this match, the previous seasons Champions League winner plays the winner of the Europa League for the Super Cup title.

And this one should be a right humdinger in the Czech Republic.

To say Guardiola and Mourinho don’t see eye-to-eye is a massive understatement as the duo have locked horns 15 times with Pep coming out on top. As manager of Barcelona Guardiola had the upper-hand on Mourinho’s Inter Milan and Real Madrid sides. Out of 15 games Moruinho has won just three, drawn five and lost seven. When asked on Thursday about the rivalry between the two during their time in charge of Madrid and Barca, Mourinho pointed to his chest and patted the Chelsea badge on his jacket.

“If you want questions about Chelsea I am here until four o’clock. If you want questions about Real Madrid and Barcelona then I am not here.”

source:
Will Guardiola have the last laugh once again?

The 50-year-old Portuguese manager was noticeably irked by the past being dragged up time and time again during his pre-match press conference, further displaying his displeasure for Guardiola and the constant reminders of his past failures against the Spanish coach. Both men will be aiming to put down a marker on Friday as they aim to win their first trophy of the season at their new clubs.

Expect a heated battle in the dugouts but also on the pitch as Chelsea’s young side aim to knock down the reigning European champions. Last season Chelsea also contested the Super Cup but lost to Atletico Madrid 4-1 in Monaco and will be searching for their second Super Cup title in club history. Munich has never won the Super Cup and shockingly neither has a team from Germany in the competitions 31-year history.

Will that change on Friday? Guardiola has won the Super Cup twice with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, while Mourinho has failed to win the competition with FC Porto in 2003 and Inter Milan in 2010.

On the pitch Chelsea’s two new signings Willian and Sameul Eto’o aren’t included in the squad and David Luiz is still out with a hamstring injury. Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defensive players Javi Martinez and Jan Kirchhoff are all struggling to be fit for the showpiece final.

You can watch the UEFA Super Cup live in the US on Fox Sports 2 from 2:30pm ET.

What they’re saying

Mourinho on only beating Guardiola three times in 15 games:  “I just know that I won the Champions League semifinal in Barca with Inter. I won the Spanish Cup final in Valencia, I won the Super Cup in Spain. I was champion in Spain. I won the match of the title in Barcelona with Real Madrid, so I don’t know. Maybe you are right and I am wrong. But I don’t care.”

Mourinho on the game vs. Bayern: “Football is something that sometimes goes against every gameplan, you never know what will happen. Between good teams it’s difficult to have a big result, normally it’s tight, but last year in the Super Cup it was 4-1. Because of the stability Bayern has, over the last years they have kept the same team and the same players, we can compete against them; when you compete eye to eye it means you think you can win, and we think we can.”

Guardiola on his rivalry with Mourinho and his methods: “Once the referee starts the game, the focus will be on the players. That’s the reason we’re here – that’s why kids love football and millions of people around the world will tune in to watch these two marvelous clubs in action. Not the coaches. When you lose the ball, his [Mourinho’s] teams quick, quick counter-attack. He’s a master in these actions. Everybody knows he’s an excellent, excellent trainer.

Chelsea’s Kevin De Bruyne on the challenge of facing Bayern: “I think the style will be very similar. They like to retain the ball and keep possession, which is what they did last season. They already have their own style of play and I think it will be the same. Of course we are looking forward to the game, and we will do everything we can in order to win it. That’s why we want to play football, to be involved in the big matches, so let’s see what happens.”

Prediction

This is going to be a really tasty clash in the Czech capital. Both managers have shrugged off their rivalry ahead of the game, but a chance to get an early season head start on the other is hugely attractive. Both Chelsea and Bayern will go deep into the Champions League this year and both sides are stacked with attacking talent. However there are question marks over Bayern’s defense under Guardiola’s new formation and Chelsea look solid as a rock. I think the Londoners will just edge this.

Sounders nearing potential game-changing transfer for Gonzalez

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

And another one.

Major League Soccer’s trend of adding younger players still entering their prime is set to continue with a significant Seattle Sounders acquisition from Dynamo Kyiv.

Derlis Gonzalez is the name, and you may recall it from Copa America Centenario scouting reports. The Paraguayan 23-year-old has four goals for his country, including markers against Brazil and Argentina.

[ MORE: Gold Cup Final preview ]

Gonzalez joined Benfica in 2012, taking a pair of loan seasons before moving to Basel in Switzerland. He moved to Ukrainian champs Dynamo in 2015, and operates as a left wing with the ability to play central or right if necessary.

Sounder At Heart says Gonzalez will play in Dynamo’s UEFA Champions League match against Young Boys on Wednesday before jetting to Seattle. In 21 UCL appearances, Gonzalez has five goals and three assists. He’s scored against Real Madrid, Besiktas, and Porto on two occasions.

So, yeah, this would be a significant addition for not just the Sounders but MLS. Bravo. The transfer fee is will also be an interesting figure.

Roma edges Tottenham in wild ICC affair

Twitter/@ASRomaEN
Leave a comment

Tottenham opened its 2017 International Champions Cup account in style on Sunday, however, the reigning Premier League runners’ up had no such luck at Red Bull Arena.

[ MORE: Chelsea falls 3-2 to Bayern in Singapore ]

Italian giants AS Roma knocked off Spurs, 3-2, on Tuesday night in New Jersey after Marco Tumminello’s 92nd minute finish dismissed a late push by Tottenham.

The sell-out crowd of 26,192 witnessed a largely dominating performance from Roma, who bounced back well from their opening ICC defeat against PSG — which came last Wednesday on penalty kicks.

Spurs fell behind after just 13 minutes when American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers was caught with his hand away from body, thus drawing a penalty kick for Roma.

Perotti stepped up to the spot on the ensuing kick, before burying the attempt for the Italian side’s opener.

Meanwhile, second-half substitute Under pounced on a rebound in the 70th minute to double the Roma advantage.

Spurs looked more dangerous in the second stanza, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli creating more attacking chances for the PL club, but Roma’s back line stood tall on several occasions.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side finally found a breakthrough with under four minutes remaining after Harry Winks blasted home a close-range shot following a scrum inside the Roma penalty area.

Vincent Janssen did the unthinkable, leveling the match up in stoppage time for Spurs, however, it wasn’t enough as his finish was cancelled out just seconds later by Tuminello.

Tottenham will continue its ICC campaign on Saturday against fellow PL side Manchester City, while Roma turns its attention to defending Serie A champions Juventus the following day in an all-Italy affair.

Report: Galaxy seal capture of Villarreal’s Jonathan Dos Santos

Francois Nel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The rumors look set to come true: A report from Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep says the LA Galaxy have doubled their Dos Santos with a $5 million purchase of Jonathan Dos Santos from Villarreal.

Jonathan joins older brother Giovani with the Galaxy, and if he has half the impact of his sibling it’s going to be a high-flying half-season for Los Angeles.

[ MORE: Gold Cup Final preview ]

Jonathan Dos Santos is an organizing center midfielder with offensive upside; For a quick Premier League comparison, think Danny Drinkwater or James McCarthy. The 27-year-old has 29 caps for Mexico, and played in four of El Tri’s Confederations Cup matches this summer.

He’ll help facilitate chances for star attackers Romain Alessandrini, Giovani Dos Santos, and — hopefully — Gyasi Zardes.

Giovani has 23 goals and 18 assists in 52 games for the Galaxy.

Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead USMNT

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
Leave a comment

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

Among some other unmentionables.

“Are you kidding me? I’m sure there’s plenty of those,” the U.S. coach acknowledged with a chuckle, “I don’t make that public information, though.”

Arena walks across midfield soaking in the California sun and surveying the scene as his players take a lap and begin stretches ahead of training on a practice field adjacent to Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.

[ MORE: PST’s Gold Cup Final preview ]

He crosses his arms and paces – side to side, forward and backward – eyes up always. He shifts his hands to his hips and steals a glance downfield to where the goalkeepers are doing individual work.

“I’m thinking about my investments and retirement and things like that,” Arena cracked, then added: “I’m observing the players and looking at their habits, trying to learn as much as I can about players on a daily basis. It’s not only game day. When you have a team and there’s 23 players, every player is important. So sometimes your contributions aren’t only on game or on the field and it’s other things. You look at the qualities of players both on and off the field.”

With his quick wit off the field and demanding nature on it, Arena has instilled a calm and a swagger the U.S. squad needed, and that has bred success again after fans reached panic mode. Now, Arena can become the first to coach three CONCACAF Gold Cup titles if the Americans can beat surprising Jamaica on Wednesday night. The U.S. won under Arena in 2002 and `05.

“I came in with Bruce in January and I think initially you saw someone who’s trying to get points across and be pretty serious about it, but as we realized his demands and his intentions he’s been able to kind of dial it back a little bit,” midfielder Graham Zusi said. “Very dry, good sense of humor. It’s important, especially in these long camps, to have some kind of comic relief as well.”

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 

On Monday, Arena reminded his players it was here in the Bay Area where the Americans regained momentum in March by beating Honduras 6-0 in a World Cup qualifer.

Arena, a member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame who turns 66 in September, has led the team to an 8-0-5 record since he returned in November for a second stint as coach, replacing Jurgen Klinsmann after the Americans’ first 0-2 start in the final round of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

“Four months ago we were rebuilding our program, a program that was in desperate shape of being in a position to qualify for a World Cup and all other things,” Arena said. “We’ve made great strides over the last four months. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to make progress. We’d love to win the Cup.”

The U.S. is seeking its sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013. Nine different players have scored so far this tournament, most notably Clint Dempsey‘s record-tying 57th goal in a 2-0 semifinal win against Costa Rica on Saturday that matched Landon Donovan’s mark.

[ MORE: Van Dijk to Liverpool after all? ]

“Coming into the situation, into the job, we were in a tough spot,” Dempsey said.

Under Arena, the Americans have momentum again regardless how Wednesday turns out. Qualifying resumes with matches against Costa Rica on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.

“It’s a good group of guys, let’s start there,” veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “But Bruce has kind of come in and kind of took the edge off a little bit. That’s who he is as a person, that’s how he manages us, and he’s kind of allowed us to be ourselves and have that swagger. The one thing I would say about Bruce, which has kind of always been the case but more so now, I think he is more relaxed off the field and much more demanding on the field. He’s always kind of had that balance but it’s more extreme now, and it’s a very good thing. He asks the world of us on the field, whether it be training or games he asks us for 110 percent every day, and then when you’re off the field he’s joking, he’s very jovial and he kind of lets us be who we are.”

Arena took over with little room for error. A decade ago, he never would have envisioned himself in this spot now.

“I’m enjoying it, and I’ve always thought about what I was going to do in my mid-60s,” Arena said. “I thought I was going to retire at 55, so I’m a little bit behind schedule right now. Probably going to keep going for a while, doing something. I’m thinking from what I can tell I probably could be a sportswriter and do pretty well.”

Then added with one of those sly grins, “Nah, I’m only kidding.”