Manchester United welcome rivals City to Old Trafford on Saturday, in a game that also sees José Mourinho once again face off against old foe Pep Guardiola.
The battles between theses two in Spain were physically, mentally and emotionally draining and the experience clearly took its toll on both men.
From the first time these two met competitively, a 0-0 draw in a Champions League group stage match in 2009, the intensity was ratcheted up a little bit each time. Each time the former Barcelona colleagues squared off, it became a war, an exhausting battle of wits where each man was determined to get one over on the other.
Two very successful managers, two very different records. One, a calculated strategist, the other a belligerent showman, a song of ice and fire (to use a clumsily shoehorned Game of Thrones reference).
But how does their record against each other stand up? What have been the results that have defined this gargantuan battle?
Inter 0-0 Barcelona – September 2009 (Champions League group match)
Barcelona 2-0 Inter – November 2009 (Champions League group stage match)
Inter 3-1 Barcelona – April 2010 (Champions League semi-final first leg)
Barcelona 1-0 Inter – April 2010 (Champions League semi-final second leg)
Guardiola: 1 Mourinho: 1 Draws: 2
José first met Pep – the current European champion and therefore prime target – in a typically tense 0-0 draw at the San Siro in 2009. The return match was to go Barcelona’s way, as a Xavi-inspired home side came away with three points.
However, while Barcelona won the battle, Mourinho was preparing for war. He studied these two matches, learned from them, and was determined to be ready for the next time these two sides met. He said as much himself at the time:
“As a team, Barcelona are better than us. But if I had to play against Barca again tomorrow, I would already be ready. If you told me that Inter will face Barca in the semi-final, I will accept it already.”
Mourinho would get his chance for revenge later that season, as he used everything he had learned in the first meetings between these two to phenomenal effect. The Inter boss was tactical in the first leg, defensive in the second but used both skills to bring down the behemoth over the course of the two legs.
That being said, the first signs of this rivalry becoming somewhat unpleasant appeared when Mourinho went into full-on narcissist mode as soon as the final whistle rang out at the Camp Nou to send Inter into the Champions League final at Barcelona’s expense.
Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid – November 2010 (La Liga)
Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona – April 2011 (La Liga)
Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid – April 2011 (Copa del Rey final)
Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona – April 2011 (Champions League semi-final first leg)
Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid – May 2011 (Champions League semi-final second leg)
Guardiola: 2 Mourinho: 1 Draws: 2
José arrived at the Bernabéu in the summer of 2010 to, paraphrasing Alex Ferguson, “knock Barcelona off their f**king perch”. However, the first encounter between these two in La Liga was to be quite the hammering.
Real Madrid found themselves 2-0 down at half time, at which point the manager engaged in damage limitation by going defensive in his tactics. To say that it did not work would be an understatement. By the end, even fringe player Jeffrén Suárez was scoring against them on what was probably the worst night of Mourinho’s career.
The end of the season saw these two teams met for an incredible four times in 17 days in three different competitions. The return league game was largely uneventful in footballing terms, and in the Copa del Rey final Mourinho won the first silverware of the season between the two with an extra time 1-0 victory.
But the eyes of the Real boss were firmly fixed on the Champions League, a competition he was desperate to win in successive seasons and to be the man to finally bring the trophy back to Madrid after a nine year drought.
Ahead of the tie, Guardiola was probably the angriest he’s been at any point in the rivalry. Finally snapping back to one of Mourinho’s barbs, in which he suggested the Barcelona boss was criticising referees, Pep shot back:
“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 fucking boss’ and the one who knows more than everyone else.”
However, it was to be Mourinho who let his emotions get the better of him in the game itself and was sent off, as was defender Pepe, in a total collapse that was sealed by two late Lionel Messi goals to give Barca firm control of the tie.
Mourinho preferred to focus on Guardiola’s manipulation of the referees after the defeat rather than his own outburst, insisting that the fact he now had one of his players sent off in five consecutive games against Pep was down to his opposite number:
“One day, I would like Josep Guardiola to win this competition properly. Why does a team as good as they are need something that is so obvious that everyone sees it?
“I don’t know if it is the UNICEF sponsorship or if it is because they are nice guys. I don’t understand.
“Josep Guardiola is a fantastic coach. But I have won two Champions Leagues and he has won only one Champions League – and that is one that would embarrass me.”
The second leg had nowhere near the dramatic impact of the first, and Pedro’s 54th minute strike ended the tie as a contest. Marcelo’s goal ten minutes later was merely a consolation.
Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona – August 2011 (Spanish Super Cup second leg)
Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid – August 2011 (Spanish Super Cup second leg)
Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona – December 2011 (La Liga)
Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona – January 2012 (Copa del Rey quarter final first leg)
Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid – January 2012 (Copa del Rey quarter final second leg)
Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid – April 2012 (La Liga)
Guardiola: 3 Mourinho: 1 Draws: 2
The first meetings of Barcelona and Real Madrid in this season was probably the ugliest of the whole Guardiola/Mourinho rivalry. The first actually passed without incident, and was a highly-entertaining 2-2 draw for good measure, but the return leg was an absolute mess.
A harsh tackle from Marceloa on Cesc Fabregas sparked a massive brawl between the two sets of players, and when the two benches got involved, Mourinho infamously gouged Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye.
Afterwards, Barca defender Gerard Piqué was incensed, and urged the Spanish football authorities to get involved:
“Someone has to take action on the matter. Mourinho is destroying Spanish football…the problem is with Madrid. I think it’s going too far. It cannot always end well. In the end this will end very badly.”
Mourinho hit back in defence of Marcelo and to criticise Barcelona’s play-acting throughout:
“We intended to play like men and not fall on the ground at the slightest touch. I have been taught to play like a man and not to fall first.”
In the grand scheme of things, however, this was to be Real’s season. Despite losing to 3-1 Barcelona in the Clásico at the Bernabéu in December, they would go on to win 20 of their 23 remaining La Liga games to claim their first league title in four years.
Real’s 2-1 win at the Camp Nou later that same season was to be the final time these two squared off in Spain, as Guardiola left Barcelona at the end of that season.
Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea (5-4 on pens) – August 2013 (UEFA Super Cup)
Guardiola: 1 Mourinho: 0 Draws: 0
The first time these two had met since the pressure cooker that is El Clásico, and to date the last time they have met competitively, was in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup.
Both men were just settling into their new jobs, and while the match itself was lively, we were spared the usual histrionics that we had come to expect from this rivalry. Bayern won out on penalties, though Mourinho wasn’t exactly gracious in defeat:
“The best team clearly lost, they just scored one more penalty.”
The two finally come face to face again on Saturday, with the chance to lay down an early marker in the pursuit of Manchester domination and Premier League glory very much on the mind of both.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) July 8, 2016