When Jose Mourinho took charge of Real Madrid in 2010, the world was eagerly awaiting to see how the master tactician will stop Pep Guardiola’s dream team.
Guardiola had created a magical team that brought back memories of Johan Cruyff’s famous side from the mid 90s.
With the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets pulling the strings in midfield and Messi playing up front as a ‘False nine’, Barcelona were playing a different brand of football as everyone was in awe of this incredible side that Guardiola had put together.
The first Classico between Jose’s Real and Pep’s Barca ended in a 5-0 hammering for the Madrid side. Barcelona humiliated Jose as they inflicted the worst ever defeat on the Portuguese’s career.
For the next two years, Jose used ever trick in the book to beat Barcelona as he tried everything from press conference barbs to borderline rough tactics in the matches.
The well respected Xabi Alonso played under Jose during those years and has spoken about how they tried to control Messi during the matches.
“Messi has done a lot of damage to me. Me, Mourinho and Sergio Ramos talked about him a lot.
“We only started to control Messi when I was marking him.”
“We sacrificed positions for me to mark him, but once we controlled Messi the matches were even.”
“The famous 5-0 made us change a lot of things.”
“At that time we weren’t ready to compete, a year later we were.
“Barcelona were dominant, but by the end of 2011 we knew we could strike against anybody.”
Real eventually wrested the league title from Barcelona as Jose managed to get the better of Pep’s team.
Pep left a year later and cited the constant mental battle against Jose as one of the main reasons for his departure.
As fate would have it, the two rivals would once again meet in Manchester as Jose took over at Old Trafford while Pep set up camp at the Etihad.
Let’s hope there are many more battles between these two incredible managers!