Breaking down the key moments in Mourinho vs. Guardiola rivalry

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The rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola goes back decades.

Now that Mourinho and Guardiola have taken charge of Manchester United and Manchester City respectively, their rivalry is coming to the Premier League.

It’s showtime.

[ VIDEO: How big is Manchester derby? ]

Ahead of their first encounter in the Manchester derby this Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports) let’s remind ourselves of some of the major flash points which have made this rivalry one of the biggest in managerial history.

It all began quite cordially when Mourinho was a young assistant manager at Barcelona from 1996-2000. At that time Guardiola was an experienced midfielder at Barcelona and one picture of the duo during that time — the one where they are both sat on the grass together at the training ground — shows just how close they were.

However, when they both moved into head coaching jobs their relationship soon turned sour as their contrasting personalities and soccer ideologies clashed. When Guardiola took charge of Barca’s first team in 2008, it was believed Mourinho had been lined up and basically had the job but a last minute change of heart saw Guardiola promoted from within Barca’s setup. That is only where the tale begins.

From battles in the UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan and Barcelona, to the box office and hectic encounters between Mourinho’s Real Madrid and Guardiola’s Barcelona juggernaut which were to follow, this rivalry has strengthened and become more intense year on year. Constant comments in the media from each about the other has cranked things up a few notches but the two have not met since August 2013 when Guardiola’s Bayern Munich beat Mourinho’s Chelsea on penalty kicks in the UEFA Super Cup final.

[ VIDEO: Zlatan taunts Man City’s Bravo ]

This Saturday will be very interesting viewing on the sidelines before, during and after the game at Old Trafford. The eyes of the world are watching Guardiola and Mourinho. Here’s a look back at the key moments which have defined their rivalry thus far.

April 28, 2010, UEFA Champions League semifinal, 2nd leg: Barcelona 1-0 Inter Milan (Inter win 3-2 on aggregate)

After being reduced to 10-men in the first half, Mourinho’s Inter dug deep and frustrated Barca to reach the UCL final which they eventually won by beating Louis Van Gaal‘s Bayern Munich 2-0. Mourinho’s celebration at the final whistle has become iconic. He ran onto the pitch at the Nou Camp and punched the air with delight as his team delivered a defensive masterclass to thwart a Barca side who, up until that point, had looked completely unstoppable. After preferring to go with Guardiola over Mourinho back in 2004, this was a sweet, sweet victory for the “Special One” as the rivalry with Guardiola intensified.

26 April, 2011, ahead of UEFA Champions League semifinal 1st leg: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona (Barcelona won 3-1 on aggregate)

Guardiola finally blew his lid. Ahead of a huge UCL semifinal showdown between Real and Barca, he gave a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu. Guardiola chose this time to say the following about Mourinho’s relationship with the press. This is when things really reached a point of no return.

“As senor Mourinho has called me Pep, I’m going to call him Jose. Tomorrow at 8.45pm we will face each other on the pitch. Off the pitch he’s won. He’s been winning off the pitch all season. Let them give him a Champions League for it so he can enjoy it and take it home. In the press room he is “the ******* boss” and the one who knows more than everyone else. I would only remind him that we were together, he and I, for four years.

“He knows me and I know him. That’s enough for me. If he prefers to value the views of the journalist friends who take their information in a drip feed from Florentino Perez more than the relationship we had for four years then that’s his choice. I try to learn from Jose on the pitch, but I prefer to learn as little as possible from him off the pitch.”

August 17, 2011, Spanish Super Cup, 2nd leg: Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid (Barca win 5-4 on aggregate)

This gamed ended in the mother of all touchline brawls. With Mesut Ozil, Marcelo and David Villa all shown red cards in stoppage time, a mass brawl took place in front of the benches at the Santiago Bernabeu. That’s when Mourinho got involved as he poked Guardiola’s assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye. The relationship had reached an all-time low following the previous bust up in April 2011. Mourinho delivered one final blow to Guardiola at the end of the 2011-12 season as Real beat Barca 2-1 in the Nou Camp to all but seal their first La Liga title in four years. That summer Guardiola left Barca for a sabbatical and their rivalry was over. Until now…

Report: No money in January for Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho will have to deal with the squad he has for the rest of the season, according to a report the Guardian.

The report states that Tottenham isn’t making any money available for signings in January, meaning that Mourinho won’t have the chance to add to his Spurs squad. Usually, when a new coach comes in, they’re given at least a transfer window to bring in one or two players, especially mid-season, to stabilize the squad.

[READ: Mourinho speaks for the first time as Spurs manager]

It’s certainly an unusual move from Tottenham. It leaves Mourinho in a bad spot in terms of the five first-team players who will be out of contract in June. If any of them, including Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, leave on transfer, perhaps Tottenham can use those funds towards new signings. However, it’s more likely at this point that all five will finish the season at White Hart Lane and leave, setting up a massive summer for Mourinho.

At the same time, Tottenham has shown financial austerity for the past few seasons, as it struggles to pay back the loans it took to renovate its stadium. Pochettino didn’t make a single signing for the entirety of the 2018-2019 season and while the club broke its transfer record to sign Tanguay Ndombele, there wasn’t investment throughout the squad.

Considering Tottenham’s financial behavior, it does question why Mourinho took the job in the first place. But with his reported eight-figure salary, and the chance to work with Harry Kane, Mourinho may have decided it’s worth it, even if he can’t sign his players and mold the squad in the way he wants.

Looking Ahead: Mourinho’s first 10 games

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Tottenham’s stunning week continued on Wednesday with the appointment of Jose Mourinho as manager.

Taking in his first day of training, Mourinho can now get to grips with not only his squad, but what’s ahead for Spurs. Here’s a look at what Mourinho will be up against in the next two months.

[READ: 5 things Mourinho must do at Tottenham]

Game 1: Tottenham at West Ham, Saturday, Premier League

Mourinho’s first game in charge is a London derby, which is a pretty tough way to start life at the club. Coming on the road, you can expect a packed house, tons of media attention, and possibly a re-energized squad. That’s what Mourinho will be hoping for, anyways.

Sebastian Haller has struggled recently, and with just four goals in 11 Premier League games, he could be looking at this matchup as a way to get back on the scoresheet. It will be up to Mourinho to re-organize a want-away defense.

Game 2: Tottenham v. Olympiakos, Nov. 26, UEFA Champions League

Game 3: Tottenham v. Bournemouth, Nov. 30, Premier League

Game 4: Tottenham at Manchester United, Dec. 4, Premier League

Mourinho only has to wait three weeks before his first trip back to Old Trafford. Even though it’s coming soon, it’s not a guarantee that it will be Mourinho v. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is under a lot of pressure himself. Things haven’t improved at Man United much since Mourinho was sacked, and a win for him on the road would be the kind of grudge match he lives for.

Game 5: Tottenham v. Burnley, Dec. 7, Premier League

Game 6: Tottenham at Bayern Munich, Dec. 11, Champions League

If the Champions League stopped today, passed Go and went directly to the knockout rounds, Tottenham would be in. Despite all the Premier League troubles, Spurs have done well enough to stay ahead of Red Star Belgrade and Olympiakos in the standings. Should Tottenham beat Olympiakos in November, and Red Star loses to Bayern Munich, it will be set. However, if Tottenham hasn’t secured a place in the knockout round by then, it may need a result against Bayern at home. That will be one of Mourinho’s biggest tasks moving forward.

Game 7: Tottenham at Wolves, Dec. 15, Premier League

Game 8: Tottenham v. Chelsea, Dec. 22, Premier League

Tottenham opens the busy holiday period against Mourinho’s other Premier League former club, and the place where he made his name in England. At this point, Mourinho will have been with Tottenham for an entire month and if things are going well, Tottenham could challenge Chelsea in this match. If Tottenham remain at its current level, Chelsea could certainly win a match like this on the road at the new White Hart Lane. Another side plot will be Mourinho facing his former star midfielder, Frank Lampard.

Game 9: Tottenham v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Dec. 26, Premier League

Game 10: Tottenham at Norwich City, Dec. 28, Premier League

Mourinho will have to navigate some tough matches, including big six derbies against Chelsea and Man United, plus a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, it certainly could have been worse for Tottenham. Spurs has five home games, along with matches against Burnley, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion. Despite 10 games in the rest of 2019, and a busy holiday period, Mourinho has a shot to turn Spurs’ season around and put them in contention for fourth place by May.

UEFA investigates player’s claim of racial abuse in Romania

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA has called for further investigations into allegations by a Sweden player he was racially abused by Romania fans at a European Championship qualifying game.

After Alexander Isak reported his claim to the match referee last Friday, play in Sweden’s 2-0 win was briefly stopped to broadcast a warning to fans in Bucharest. The stadium will host four Euro 2020 games in June.

[READ: How the USMNT found and kept Sergino Dest]

UEFA says it opened a disciplinary investigation, and also charged Romania’s soccer federation for separate incidents of an alleged “illicit banner” and “illicit chants.” Those charges will be judged on Dec. 12.

Romania faces more severe UEFA action because it was already under one year’s probation for previous incidents of offensive fan behavior.

Only accompanied children were allowed to attend Romania’s home qualifier against Norway last month.

The next UEFA punishment could affect Romania’s next game in the Euro 2020 playoffs round in March.

Report: Austin FC hire Reyna as sporting director

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Months after locking in Josh Wolff as head coach, Austin FC is reportedly on the verge of naming one of MLS’ best sporting directors to the same role.

The Athletic reported on Wednesday that Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has hired Claudio Reyna from New York City FC to be the expansion club’s new sporting director. It’s the second expansion club that Reyna is working for since he joined NYCFC in 2013 as its first director of soccer operations.

[READ: MLS takes big step with All-Star game update]

If true, it’s a shrewd move by Precourt to bring in a man who knows MLS like the back of his thumb, and to pair him with a former teammate from the U.S. Men’s National Team. Wolff’s spent almost his entire career in professional soccer in MLS too, so the club now has two influential individuals who are knowledgable about the league and it’s various roster mechanisms.

Austin FC doesn’t enter MLS until 2021, so locking in Reyna now gives him more than a year of runway towards building an MLS-ready roster. Precourt has surely seen the best-case scenario – Seattle, Los Angeles FC, Atlanta United – where a team loaded with top-heavy talent and good role players can make a deep playoff run in its expansion season. But he’s likely also seen the worst-case scenarios – look at Minnesota United in the past and FC Cincinnati this year.

Bringing in Reyna certainly makes it more likely that Austin FC’s future will lie in the former category.