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.

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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.

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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…

USMNT’s Arriola likely will miss MLS season, six World Cup qualifiers

Paul Arriola
AP Photo/LM Otero
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WASHINGTON (AP) D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola had major knee surgery Monday and likely will miss the entire Major League Soccer season and the United States’ first six qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup

The operation was to reconstruct his right anterior cruciate ligament. The team said there was no additional cartilage damage.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 25-year-old midfielder injured his knee Feb. 15 during D.C. United’s preseason match against Orlando in Tampa, Florida.

Arriola has been a regular starter for the U.S. national team under coach Gregg Berhalter. Arriola has five goals in 33 international appearances.

After failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. starts qualifying for the 2022 tournament this year. The Americans have two matches each in September, October and November, then complete qualifying with two games apiece in March and September 2021.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

State of play in CONCACAF Champions League

CONCACAF Champions League
AP Photo/Carlos Gonzalez
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Four of five Major League Soccer clubs alive in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 are in fine shape to reach the quarterfinals after one leg.

The fifth has a tall hill to climb.

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LAFC trails Club Leon by two and did not collect an away goal in Mexico during first leg play last week.

“It’s 2-0, but we’re going to work hard,” said LAFC attacker Latif Blessing. “We’re going to prepare ourselves to win the next game. … We did good, but we want to win. It couldn’t happen that way but we’re going to prepare next game to win this game. We need to win.”

The second leg in L.A. is one of the last two matches of the round, kicking off at 10 p.m. ET Thursday just as Seattle Sounders square off with Olimpia.

The Honduran side managed a controversial comeback in the 2-2 draw with Jordan Morris-fueled Seattle last week, but the Sounders will be happy to have those two away goals and home field.

Montreal Impact has the same situation for Deportivo Saprissa’s visit at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, while Atlanta United scored an away goal in a draw with Motagua and hosts the visitors from Honduras’ capital at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

That leaves us with NYCFC, who got a Heber hat trick amongst five away goals at Costa Rican side San Carlos in a 5-3 win. The second leg begins at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday at Red Bull Arena (yes, you read that correctly).

Elsewhere, Liga MX sides don’t have it much better. Cruz Azul leads Portmore 2-1 heading back to Mexico, while Club America scored an away goal in a draw with Comunicaciones.

Finally, Tigres UANL trails 2-1 after one leg with Alianza in El Salvador.

CCL second leg schedule
all times ET

Atlanta United v. Motagua (1-1) — 8 p.m. Tuesday
Cruz Azul v. Portmore United (2-1) — 10 p.m. Tuesday
NYCFC v. San Carlos (5-3) — 6 p.m. Wednesday
Montreal Impact v. Deportivo Saprissa (2-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tigres UANL v. Alianza (1-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Club America v. Comunicaciones (1-1) — 10 p.m. Wednesday
Seattle Sounders v. Olimpia (2-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday
LAFC v Leon (0-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday

Eleven to go: Ranking obstacles on Liverpool’s unbeaten path

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Liverpool has won all five of its matches since the last time we evaluated its path to an unbeaten Premier League season.

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Those matches were ranked 14th, 12th, 11th, 10th, and 4th on our first rankings of obstacles to immortality, so very little of the heavy lifting has been conducted.

Let’s get something out of the way: If Liverpool is unable to overturn their first leg deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, you can probably etch that zero in the league loss column into stone.

That said, many expect the Reds to overcome that 1-0 disadvantage from Madrid, so here’s where we slot the difficulties moving forward.

Unranked — Crystal Palace at home (March 21) and Brighton away (April 18) — Both of these dates are very easy on the eyes, but will be moved if Liverpool is alive in the FA Cup.

9. Newcastle away, time TBD May 17 — We’re now calling this the easiest date left. Klopp’s men aren’t going to lose an unbeaten season at the altar just because Steve Bruce bunkers down. St. James’ Park is a hassle, but

8. Watford away, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday Klopp probably feels like he’s already playing with house money in the FA Cup, so there’s no reason to think he’ll hand any priority at all to the following FA Cup meeting with Chelsea.

7. Bournemouth home, 7:30 a.m. ET March 7 Situated between Chelsea in the FA Cup and the home UCL second leg versus Atleti, it’s not easy…  but the Cherries have given us less reason to believe they’ll threaten the Reds than any other team besides Newcastle.

6. Aston Villa home, 11:30 a.m. ET April 12Dean Smith‘s desperate Villans will have Villa Park rocking before Liverpool’s possible UCL quarterfinals 2nd leg days later.

5. Burnley home, 7:30 a.m. ET April 25 — Taking place just before a possible UCL quarterfinal first leg, Burnley will try to trouble the Reds in a similar manner to West Ham.

4. Chelsea home, time TBD May 9 — Both the Blues and Reds could be coming off UCL semifinal second legs. Don’t forget that Chelsea took the Reds to the wire in the UEFA Super Cup despite it being very early in Frank Lampard‘s tenure.

3. Arsenal away, time TBD May 2 — Both sides may be days away from needing a result to qualify for the UCL or UEL final.

2. Everton away, 4 p.m. ET March 16 — This may as well be the only match left on the Toffees’ docket that matters more than another, as Carlo Ancelotti and his men know the message they could send regarding the building up of Everton.

Not only that, but Everton has nothing else left to circle, no other competitions, nothing.

1. Man City away, 11:30 a.m. ET April 5 — Taking place 3-4 days before the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and on the heels of an international break, it’s the lone date on the calendar that Liverpool won’t be heavy favorites to win.

Champions League: Chelsea, Napoli aim to slow Lewandowski, Messi

UEFA Champions League preview
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Four of the most dangerous attacks in Europe begin their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

For Chelsea that means trying to find a way to limit the damage of away goals when Bayern Munich visits Stamford Bridge.

Of course, that means trying to slow lethal Robert Lewandowski. The 31-year-old Polish striker has scored 38 times in 32 appearances this season.

Here’s Frank Lampard, via Football.London:

Form of his life means something special with Lewandowski because of how well he’s been consistently in Europe for the last, how many years, I don’t know,” Lampard said. “Everything about him, from a distance, from afar, is just top class. Having the opportunity to watch a lot of Bayern in build-up to this game, that shines through. Of course, he’s going to be a huge threat. He’s not the only threat but he is a spearhead.”

Lampard points to the Blues work without the ball and away from it that will determine whether they can limit Lewandowski and Bayern.

“We traveled to Ajax and had a fantastic game off the ball,” he said. “We’ve had games like that this year in the league as well. But the levels have to go up.”

The Blues won’t have Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and N’Golo Kante, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is finally available after a long injury absence. Pedro may play.

[ MORE: JPW’s score predictions ]

Tuesday’s other first leg sees Napoli hosting Barcelona, which means Gennaro Gattuso trying to find a way to cool down Lionel Messi.

The world’s top player scored four goals at the weekend and had six assists in his three previous La Liga outings.

Another player who’s helped Barcelona reclaim the league lead will be critical to controlling the midfield against Napoli, and that’s Frenkie de Jong.

The 22-year-old has had fits and starts at Barca, especially this month. He admits that he’s had an odd time adjusting to Messi, the teammate, though it hasn’t been part of the problem. From FCBarcelona.com:

“When I began training with him it was strange, because when I was 12, still in secondary school, I used to watch a lot of football. He was already the best in the world. He won the Ballon d’Or back then, so I was a fan, or whatever you want to call it.”

Napoli boss Gattuso was a bit more effusive when addressing Messi, via Football.Espana:

“I have read whether to make a cage or not, but we need the collective game to combat someone like him, and it is not just him,” Gattuso said. “He is the best in the world, for how he has lived his entire career. He is always perfect, never a misplaced word, he is an example for everyone. He does things that I only see on the PlayStation. He has an incredible quality and for years he has been the best of all-time.”

Both matches kick off at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.