Monday, August 15, 2011

Guardiola vs Mourinho

By Bagga Wilks

Guardiola and Mourinho are recognized as two of the top coaches in the world of soccer. Sir Alex Ferguson is included in that exclusive club. Last year in La Liga, Guardiola’s Barcelona beat Real Madrid consistently. This season as was clear in the Super-Cup on Sunday, 14th August, 2011, the Real Madrid’s coach, Mourinho, has developed a new strategy to knock off Barcelona from occupying the pinnacle of world football.

Barca has perfected the short passing game with mid-field players becoming non-stop moving parts, possessing the ball and immediately dispossessing opponents whenever losing the ball.

Guardiola has assembled a special cluster of mid-fielders that rhythmically control mid field better than any other team in the world. Busquet, Inesta, Xavi, and Messi are some of the best mid-field players in the world. Playing this brand of soccer last year, they had teams like Real Madrid and Manchester United mesmerized.

At the Super-Cup, Guardiola did not start Xavi and Busquet and had some new players unfamiliar with the system of soccer end product that he has perfected. Nonetheless, Mourinho came with an effective counter-strategy. Real Madrid in the first leg of the Super-Cup, pressured Barca relentlessly and like a pugilist hitting his opponent frequently below the belt, Mourinho’s rough house boys kept fouling to push Barca from establishing a rhythm. For the ninety minutes, Barcelona lacked the old magic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw although Real Madrid created the majority of chances and had Barca on the back foot for the entire game.

Mourinho will adopt the same tactics when they meet for the return leg. It will be fascinating to see how Guardiola counter-punches. His system pivots around key players and if they start on Wednesday, can they resist the swarming tactics of Mourinho and establish the Barca game of monopoly ball possession?
Despite new acquisitions, Barca does not look solid at the central defender position. The acquisition of Fabregas and Sanchez should strengthen Barca’s offensive game. Acquiring a top class central defender before the season gets underway may be a critical factor if Barcelona is to maintain their hegemony in world football. They will also have to find an effective antidote to Mourinho’s new tactics of disrupting the traditional Barca mid-field rhythm.

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