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…