November 28, 2020

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RIVALRY RENEWED: Mourinho, Guardiola battle again

5 min read

It’s Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola today  as the English  Premier League returns with the bang, reports MAYOMIKUN OREKOYA.

 

Old rivals Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew hostilities today  when Tottenham Hotspur welcome Manchester City to North London in the Premier League. For the first time since January 2017, Spurs go into a showdown with Man City sitting above their opponents in the table, and victory would lift them to the very top until at least Sunday night. Matches with Mourinho and Guardiola in opposing dugouts almost demand that as much attention be focused on the managers as the clubs, and for Guardiola in particular he will be looking to crown a celebratory week which saw him finally put pen to paper on a new two-year contract at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

Arguably the two highest-profile managers in football have faced off in Clasicos and Manchester derbies before, with Guardiola enjoy the better of their past meetings.

Indeed, Mourinho’s 10 defeats to Guardiola-led teams are more than he has suffered against any other manager, while Guardiola himself has only beaten Manuel Pellegrini more often as an opposing boss.

The dynamics may be a little different heading into today’s showdown, though, with Tottenham flying high and belief beginning to grow that they could launch a genuine title challenge this season – just one year after finishing 40 points off the pace.

Yet Spurs are in a rich vein of form and will go top for the night if they can beat City, with third-placed Liverpool hosting leaders Leicester City on Sunday night.

City have 12 points from seven games, one fewer than Spurs, and are in need of a win as they are already six points adrift of Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Mourinho has certainly not always enjoyed facing Guardiola, but recent encounters – and the trends in their teams’ performances this term – suggest he might just have his old foe’s number…

No manager has beaten Mourinho more often (10 times) than Guardiola, with Rafael Benitez next on that list with six victories. That win total for Guardiola does not include the 2013 UEFA Super Cup, either, when Bayern Munich beat Chelsea on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Indeed, Mourinho has won only six of 23 meetings with Guardiola and has been out-scored 37 to 27 in those matches – although only Jurgen Klopp (eight) has beaten the Catalan more often.

They first faced off when Mourinho’s Inter hosted Guardiola’s Barca in the Champions League group stage in September 2009, a game that finished 0-0. Mourinho would win just two of the next 13 meetings with Guardiola: a 3-1 semi-final first-leg win en route to Inter’s 2009-10 Champions League triumph, and a 1-0 victory with Real Madrid in the 2011 Copa del Rey final.

 

Mou’s pep

However, things have slowly swung more in favour of Mourinho in the past eight years.

The Portuguese has won four and lost three of their previous nine meetings (if you exclude that Super Cup match six years ago), including two of the most recent three league matches: the famous 3-2 comeback win in the Manchester derby that saw United postpone City’s title celebrations two years ago, and a 2-0 victory for Spurs in February this year.

That match was billed as something of a Mourinho masterclass, but City were undeniably unfortunate. They missed a penalty, had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off, and still out-shot their hosts 19 to six, having 41 more touches in the opposition box and 67 per cent of the possession.

Still, the 2020-21 season has seen Spurs generally playing superior football to City – and in a style that could cause them particular harm.

Mourinho’s name has become synonymous with a specific brand of football in England, which is commonly recognised as negative, defensive, strategic and largely difficult to watch from an entertainment perspective.

‘Parking the bus’ is a term that seems to be attached to Mourinho – particularly when his teams are competing in high-profile matches against capable opponents – with the Portuguese once controversially stating: “The game is won by the team who commits fewer errors.”

The Tottenham boss is set to face one of his arch-rivals this weekend in Pep Guardiola, with Manchester City set to make the trip to London, and it could be argued that the Spaniard has proved to be the antithesis of Mourinho in many ways over the course of their managerial careers. Guardiola wants his players to have the ball, because you need it to score; Mourinho typically doesn’t want possession in important games because – in his own words – whoever has the ball has fear, and whoever does not have it is thereby stronger.

The Tottenham boss is set to face one of his arch-rivals this weekend in Pep Guardiola, with Manchester City set to make the trip to London, and it could be argued that the Spaniard has proved to be the antithesis of Mourinho in many ways over the course of their managerial careers.

Guardiola wants his players to have the ball, because you need it to score; Mourinho typically doesn’t want possession in important games because – in his own words – whoever has the ball has fear, and whoever does not have it is thereby stronger. The Spurs boss has always assessed the situation in front of him before determining his playing style and against City, there could be some reason for Mourinho to be less fearful of Guardiola’s attack than ever before.

The Etihad club have scored only 10 goals in the Premier League this season, with Spurs finding the net 19 times in comparison, although they have played one game more.

City currently  rank 11th  in the table at the moment for goals per match – as shown below – behind the likes of West Ham, Southampton and Everton, with the Manchester side likely suffering without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

The latter is now fit but regardless, City haven’t seemed as fluid and unforgiving in offensive areas of late compared to the past, with just one goal scored in five of their seven league fixtures.

Guardiola’s men are still generating a good amount of shots, with an average of 14.4 per match posted this season which ranks them third in the division, but according to Expected Goals, they aren’t forging many clear-cut openings and their shots are generally quite difficult to score based mostly on their locations.

It is still Guardiola, and players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling are still representing him on the field, but City don’t quite seem as scary as they have in the past which could result in Mourinho deploying more of an attacking game than normal on Saturday.

City are almost certain to dominate the ball, but if Mourinho is brave with his selection and his approach, Spurs could prove to be too much on the counter-attack for Guardiola’s outfit to handle.

There will be plenty of attacking talent on display and goals are a given when the sides meet. There have been 21 meetings since the last scoreless draw in August 2010.

Harry Kane is the obvious choice with the Spurs talisman being involved in 23 goals in 14 matches in all competitions this season, scoring 13 times.

Gabriel Jésus impressed against Liverpool with his slick equaliser and has been involved in 11 goals in 11 games in all competitions, scoring eight, including three in his last three appearances for City.