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…

DC United acquires Julian Gressel from Atlanta

Atlanta United trades for Julian Gressel
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How much is Major League Soccer’s best assist man worth?

About $750,000.

DC United paid Atlanta United that fee in allocation money for the rights to Julian Gressel, who had been at a contract impasse with the club who drafted him in 2017.

That fee could hit $1.1 million in incentives, and even so could be a bargain.

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Gressel was due to make around $133,000 this season and wanted an improved deal from Atlanta given his massive production since becoming the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

That salary is less than hundreds of players, most of them nowhere near Gressel’s impact. Nineteen Atlanta United players made more than him last season, so it’s understandable that the 26-year-old wanted to get paid.

We don’t know what he was asking, or why Atlanta wouldn’t get there. From

“If we really wanted to, we could have had him play on $130,000 this season, extend him a bona fide offer at the end of the season and (we’d still own his MLS rights),” said Atlanta United vice president Carlos Bocanegra. “We’re also trying to do the right thing for a guy who has given so much to the club and is really just a good kid all around.”

It’s a weird one, given what the club’s been paying others.

Gressel arrived at Providence College from Eintracht Bamberg and immediately started delivering for the Big East side. He finished his four years with 30 goals and 26 assists and All-American status.

There was some adapting to MLS, but he’s gotten better with every season. He scored 10 goals with 13 assists in all competitions last season.

Spurs chairman reportedly met with Real Madrid about Gareth Bale

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As a neutral, the idea of Gareth Bale rejoining Tottenham Hotspur would be a delight to our Premier League matchday viewing.

Obviously this applies to Spurs fans to the nth degree, especially after a dull 0-0 with Watford at the weekend.

In the short-term, Bale would be a terrific stopgap as Spurs struggle to find themselves without Harry Kane in both the PL and Champions League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

In the long-term, Bale and Heung-Min Son on the wings of Harry Kane would be enough to make any PL power trio blush (unless Liverpool really does add Timo Werner).

A report out of Spain says Real Madrid president Florentino Perez met with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy about several things including the availability of Bale.

The Welsh star has been long admired by Jose Mourinho, and of course knows Spurs well having become a superstar after arriving from Southampton.

Bale is 30 and his wages would easily top Spurs’ pay list. His 21 goals and nine assists in the 2012/13 Premier League season join his 19 and 11 in 2015 La Liga as his top league seasons.

Spurs host Norwich City on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET online via

Guardiola praises Laporte, “the best left central defender in the world”

Pep Guardiola praises Aymeric Laporte
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Manchester City kept its first clean sheet of 2020 on Tuesday, posting a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

It took the two-time reigning Premier League champions six tries to get there, the previous zero coming against this same Blades side at the Etihad Stadium.

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City manager Pep Guardiola was quick to give credit to a returning hero, as center back Aymeric Laporte returned to the fold for the first time since Aug. 31.

The club was 3W-1D at that point. They went 12W-2D-5L without him.

Here’s Guardiola, from the Manchester Evening News:

“It’s incredible,” Guardola said. “We have missed him a lot, he’s the best left central defender in the world. Imagine the best teams in the world lose their best central defender. We miss him a lot because he’s a specialist left foot where our buildup. He is fast, strong in the air.”

“He has something that we don’t have in the squad. His left foot and many actions to build up to make it quicker and better – we don’t have it, not because the other ones are not good but he has the only left foot as a central defender and for the way we want to play that is so important. His character and mentality and winning, he has all the attributes. For me, when he is fit he is the best left central defender in the world.”

If you read that as a little bit of an explanation for City being 13 points off Liverpool, you’ve similar eyes to us.

Pep is asking how Liverpool would look without Virgil Van Dijk, how Real Madrid appears when Sergio Ramos is out.

It’s not the be-all, end-all, but as I wrote when Laporte went down, this is the key piece to their defending efforts as well as where they begin possession.

We’re also grateful that Guardiola didn’t drop some sort of, “He’s like a January transfer addition,” statement (at least as far as we’ve read.

Chelsea admit they miss USMNT’s Pulisic

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LONDON — Since USMNT star Christian Pulisic was injured in training in the first week of January, Chelsea have lost against Newcastle, drawn with Arsenal and blown away Burnley.

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In the two games where they’ve dropped points they’ve missed Pulisic’s genius in the final third with both Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi easily shackled by Arsenal in their London derby. Chelsea admitted as much when speaking after the 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Tuesday, an Arsenal side who played with 10 men for over 60 minutes of the game.

Asked by Pro Soccer Talk about Pulisic’s adductor injury and if they missed him during the draw against Arsenal, downbeat Chelsea boss Frank Lampard noted that Pulisic, 21, was “playing really well” before his injury.

“Yeah, a game like today could have been a good where he would have been helpful for us because he was playing well for a patch. But other people have to stand up in those situations,” Lampard said.

When will Pulisic be back?

Lampard confirmed he is making good progress but will not be fit until after the mid-season player break in February, which means he will miss their FA Cup trip to Hull City this Saturday and their clash at Leicester City on Feb. 1. He may not be back until Feb. 17 when they host Manchester United in the Premier League, which means in total he will have been out for a period of six weeks.

“In terms of when he’s back, it is not going to be a week, it is probably be the other end of the early February break but he is getting better and he isn’t far away,” Lampard said.

Speaking to Pro Soccer Talk pitch-side at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who scored their late second goal which looked like being the winner, lavished praise on Pulisic when asked about his absence over the last week.

“Christian is a magnificent player. Since he joined us in the summer he has shown us his potential and we know that he can make the difference at any time. Whenever a player is injured it is not good for a team because we lose potential and I hope to have him back soon,” Azpilicueta said.

Chelsea’s skipper is expecting big things from Pulisic when he does return to fitness, as the fourth-place Blues now have just a six-point cushion to those outside of the top four and have played a game more.

It seems like everyone at Chelsea hopes the USMNT star can rejuvenate their attack in the final months of the season.

“After coming to Europe as a young boy to Germany, he came to Chelsea and it is one step forward, playing for Chelsea every game, fighting to win and fighting for trophies,” Azpilicueta said. “In my role I’ve tried to help in settle into the city and the club. He has a brilliant attitude. Always trying to improve. I am sure he will become bigger and bigger.”