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

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  • 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.”

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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.

Plastic cutouts to replace live fans for German club

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BERLIN — A German club’s supporters are planning to replace real-life fans with plastic ones when the Bundesliga resumes – and raise some money for a child’s medical treatment in the process.

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Borussia Monchengladbach supporters have come up with a novel way to support their team, even though they probably won’t be allowed to attend games for a while longer because of the coronavirus outbreak.

One Gladbach supporters group is giving members the chance to create life-size plastic figures that will be placed in the stadium in their places when – and if – the Bundesliga is able to complete its season.

“We don’t have any concrete expectations but it should be a couple of thousand fans anyway,” the FPMG club’s liaison officer Thomas “Tower” Weinmann told The Associated Press.

For 19 euros ($21) each supporter can have their portrait taken and reprinted on hard weatherproof plastic cutouts. From each sale, 2 euros ($2.20) will go toward a fundraising campaign for a boy named Ben to receive treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. Another portion of the money raised will go toward supporting seven workers in the fan club whose jobs are under threat with no soccer being played.

“The rest is pure manufacturing and processing costs. With this we’re also helping two small companies in Monchengladbach that had to close their shops,” FPMG says on its website. “So no profit will be made, and when the ‘war is won’ and we can all go back to the stadium, everyone can take their portrait in plastic as a souvenir of a memorable time.”

Burning question: What is the best formation?

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be asking some burning questions we have when it comes to the beautiful game and the first one focuses on something we all love to debate: formations.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release a burning question, as now seems like a good time to take stock of where the game is at and take a look at what we love and what we’d like to change as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Next question: What is the best formation to use?


Most coaches will tell you when asked that formations do not matter. We all know they do.

3-4-3? 4-4-2? 4-5-1? 4-3-3? 3-5-2? 4-1-4-1? 4-3-2-1? 4-2-2-2?

Which formation do you think is the best? Does a formation depend mostly on the players you have at your disposal or your preferred style of play? Most likely it is a combination of both but coaches often have a preferred formation and stick with it no matter what. Their philosophy and ideas mean everything to them.

I’m torn between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 but I’d probably just about go for 4-3-3 because it is so well balanced. In an attacking team like Man City or Liverpool it works really well because essentially it gives you four defenders back at all times with one deeper central midfielder, two center backs and one full back sitting back.

When teams are under pressure the 4-3-3 then turns into more of a 4-5-1 formation with one central striker saying high and the two wingers tracking back and providing cover. Speaking about cover, 3-4-3 allows one center back to push forward and always have two center backs in defense, while full backs are able to push forward which is particularly important in the modern game. My main problem with 3-4-3 is that often you don’t need three center backs if teams sit back.

4-4-1-1 is solid and flexible as the player in the No. 10 position essentially becomes a striker but there just seems to be more danger from wide players when teams are set up in a 4-3-3 system because their first thought is to attack and they have the added cover of a central midfielder tucked in halfway behind them.

Simply put, I love 4-3-3. You may love something totally different, so let us know in the comments section below which formation is your favorite.

Chelsea’s Willian eager to stay in Premier League

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Chelsea and Brazil star Willian has revealed he is eager to stay in the Premier League, even if that’s not with Chelsea.

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Willian, 31, has revealed that contract talks have stopped for now during the suspension for the coronavirus pandemic, and his future is uncertain as his current deal at Chelsea expires this summer.

The likes of Tottenham and Arsenal have been linked with a move for Willian, who almost joined Spurs in 2013 but instead joined Chelsea in a last-second change of heart.

Willian told ESPN Brazil  that he wants to stay in the Premier League and he feels he is now at his peak.

“My wish is to stay in the Premier League, but I’m not ruling out playing in other leagues,” Willian said. “I’m going to play until the end of the season and then see what happens. I’m very used to life in England. I’m not thinking about going back to Corinthians at the moment. My aim is to stay in Europe. I feel that I’m at my peak at the moment. Players improve throughout their careers and I think I’m currently at my peak.”

It is not secret that Mourinho and Willian get on very well, which will intrigue Tottenham’s fans…

“I got on very well with Mourinho, learnt a lot under him and we’ve remained friends,” Willian said. “We still message each other a lot, but I don’t see him often. I haven’t managed to meet up with him since he came back to London.”

His form for Chelsea has been a little erratic this season but Frank Lampard has spoken fondly about Willian time and time again and it is quite clear Chelsea would like to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge for at least another season.

With so many young wingers around (Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount to name a few), Willian can help ease them into the first team but there’s no doubting plenty of Premier League clubs will be eager to snap him up on a free transfer this summer, or whenever the transfer window reopens.

Tottenham would seem like a particularly good fit for Willian. He would link up with Jose Mourinho, the manage who bought him to Chelsea, and his experience would be vital at Spurs as they aim to finally secure some silverware. Tottenham need to prioritize buying new defenders but if Willian is available for free, you can’t turn that deal down, even if he turned Spurs and Daniel Levy down in 2013…

Arsenal would make sense too but you’d have to say Tottenham are the frontrunners given the connection between Willian and Mourinho. Of course, he could stay at Chelsea, but with Pedro also out of contract it does feel like a changing of the guard as Lampard will put his faith totally in new signing Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi next season.

With $2.7 billion reserves, FIFA has ‘duty’ to aid virus-hit soccer

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FIFA says it has a “duty” to use its vast financial reserves to assist a football industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport.

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The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the wealthiest clubs, with Barcelona and Juventus players taking wage cuts; those in smaller countries, with Slovakian champion Zilina entering bankruptcy; and national football federations, with Uruguay furloughing hundreds of staff.

Having amassed reserves it last reported at $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to give much-needed financial help to the game at many levels. Now the organization has provided more details around the need agreed two weeks ago by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his vice presidents to explore a “support fund” for the sport.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

FIFA is exploring the mechanism to provide the financial lifeline to the football industry with the six regional confederations and member associations to ensure there is an announcement “in the near future.”

“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.

“It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.”

FIFA already operates a “Forward” development program to redistribute its wealth to member associations. In the 2015-18 cycle, investment dedicated to the scheme was $1.079 billion, of which $832 million had been approved and committed to member associations, confederations or regions, according to the last published financial results.