All round the world, flame of rivalry is lit up among the biggest clubs in their respective country. Inter-Juve-Milan, MU-Liverpool, Rangers-Celtic, Boca-River Plate etc you name it, the list would be endless. But what distinguish Madrid-Barca is, their rivalry isn’t only limited in football realm. Numerous factors, such as history when General Franco oppressed Barca to misery, Catalan separatism from Spain, class clash between worker class (represented by Barca) vs elite class (represented by Madrid), and of course as Spain biggest football giant,  add up enough material to make Madrid-Barca as the one of hottest -if not the hottest- club rivalry in the world. The rivalry isn’t only about the collective term as the more succesful team, the players too are something to compare about. Begin from goalkeeper where Valdes fails to dethrone Casillas as Spain main goalkeeper. Then, if Barca have football best player in form of Messi, Madrid too must someone to compete and they buy Ronaldo in “whatever it takes, whatever it costs” manner.  But now, it has reached whole new level because of both coaches, Pep and Mourinho.

Guardianola Angel

Began from La Masia, heralded as world brightest talent in tender age, was a key component in Barcelona squad of 90’s and soon being a captain, undispensable as the midfield whoever the coaches in charge of Barca, everything went smoothly in Pep Guardiola football career. Admired for his radar-like vision and deft pass, Pep embodied Barcelona philosophy which empashizes on passing. As a coach too he doesn’t leave the philosophy behind, he develops it to perfection instead.

The emergence of Pep with his tiki-taka passing can’t come at better time. Years before, football is dominated by 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Emergence of Benitesque 4-2-3-1, Arsenal declined after their invincible season, and Greece crowned as Euro champion shape up European tactic from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1. I don’t have problem with 4-5-1 formation, but when every team used the same pattern it became annoying. It was the same pattern, every team packed the midfield with 2 bulky midfielder and 3 offensive midfielder with a target man as spearhead. The match went static because the midfield is congested and the same formation means every position cancels out their respective opponent. The forward can’t make way through the goal because he is against back-four and the midfielders can’t find space because of packed midfield. Then, Pep came with his tiki-taka style saved football and guarded the value of beautiful football until today.

At first it didn’t work well as Barca was shockingly defeated by Numancia at first match and draw with Santander week after. Just when the sacking letter were about to fly, Barca rose in style with 6-0 convincing victory over Gijon. Then, Barca was unstoppable taking all remainder available trophies. A champion with strong characteristic and  beautiful game style, Barcelona were the most respectable team in the world, a feat which Magic Magyar Hungaria 1954 and Total Football Netherland 1974 failed to achieve.


But there came a man who stop Barca juggernaut and he was Mourinho whose trait is complete opposite of Pep. If Pep orders his players to press from front line, Mourinho prefers to defend deeply. Pep attacks his opponent regardless the condition, but Mourinho builds the solid fort in front of goal, waiting the attacking enemy caught offguard, and punishes them with swift counter attack. Pep would never tell his player to do dirty trick like diving, elbow, hard tackle, provocation etc (although we can exclude the diving now) but Mourinho has been using them since his tenure at Porto. Finished ? Not yet. Pep always talks nicely and humbly to press regardless his team won or lost. And also he always keeps good relationship with other managers. What a contrary. Mourinho’s words are sharp and controversial. He frequently involved in feud with other managers, notably with Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger, Lippi, and even club president La Monaco. Also, if Pep was the glorious player with , Mourinho was fail even in small stage of amateur Portugal league. Those opposites sums up the rivalry between them, Mourinho is notorious even once he was called “enemy of football” while Pep is famous for his good football in and out of pitch.

Mourinho’s rivalry with Barcelona is as if already destined. He was the staff in Barcelona in 1992-2000, becoming the integral part of Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal’s Barca. And just like Lucifer fell from heaven and builded his own kingdom of evil, Mourinho went out from Barcelona and builded the team with complete opposite of Barcelona philosophy. But his rivalry with Barca begun when he moved to Chelsea. Back then before Pep’s reign, Barcelona were an apple in world’s eyes. With Deco and Xavi controlled the midfield, Ronaldinho brought freestyle football and still owned opponent defenders, young Messi already showed glimpse of talent with his dribble, and predatory instinct in form of Eto’o, Barca were hailed as the best team in the world. But the juggernaut was stopped by Mourinho and it was Chelsea who progressed into the next round, upsetting the world who still wanted to see Barca beautiful game. The upset was even greater because Mourinho accused Andres Frisk did the favor for Barcelona by sending Drogba off. Soon, Frisk got death threat and forcing him to have sooner retirement. After the retirement, Mourinho had firmed his place, he was the devil and enemy of football. Critism and condemns flew over to Mourinho from throughout the world, but he coldly ignored all of them and still defended his notorious style until now. Like a devil, isn’t he ? Still doing the evil job although the whole world hates him while still achieving the success. Next year, Mourinho met his former club again only to be beaten by 2006 champion Barcelona and thus sharpen the fiery relationship between them.

Then he moved to Internazionale Milan to bring long-dreamed Champion League trophy to the club. Mourinho is a fan of defending art and Inter Milan, under legendary Herrerra,  was the club who popularized Catenaccio system. They were matched, weren’t they ? But Mourinho failed to bring the big-ears in his first season after ultimately fell in MU hand. This was considered as a failure although he still won Serie-A. Mourinho was brought to Inter and he was paid the highest salary in the world to win UCL. Then here comes the fateful season for Inter and Mourinho. Inter advanced to semifinal and they meet Barcelona under Pep guidance who was heralded as most beautiful team in the world. It seemed Barca will win UCL back to back because they met the team who weren’t able to win a single UCL in 44 years. But Mourinho surprised the world by beating Barca 3-1. This loss was a taint in Pep record as he had never lose by 2 goal margins during his tenure even until now. Then, the second leg was the fateful one. Thanks to outrageous Busquet’s acting, Motta got an early bath in minute 26. With home adventage and 64 minutes remaining, it seemed Blaugrana will advanced to final. But in such tight and dire situation, Mourinho proved his dark art of defending was too strong. The world saw the long left Catenaccio again on 28 April 2010. Inter had no intention to have the ball, let alone to attack. Everyone defended valiantly against world best offence. In the end, Mourinho cemented his place as master of negative football with victory over world’s finest football and as an ultimate enemy of Cules.

His move to Madrid heated up the already-very bitter relationship between them. Inter and Chelsea weren’t Barcelona’s enemy, but Mourinho succeded sparking up the fire between respective club against Barca. Now that he was at Barcelona’s eternal nemesis, the temperature of El Classico was rosen to greater greater height. Imagine, the most hated man joined the most hated club. Now, Mourinho is [insert the noun that even greater than extremely bitter rival because I can’t find one] of Barcelona.

Even better than Don Revie-Brian Clough

Till now, the good still win against the evil. Barca have won most of El Classico with Copa Del Rey as the only loss. A small casualties actually if compared to devastating 2-6 loses at Santiago Bernabeu. But, actually there are no good guy or bad guy in football. Both Pep and Mourinho only have different view on football and that’s why football is amazing. We don’t know who will have last laugh as both still have long future in managerial career. But one thing for sure, Pep-Mou rivalry is legendary and it will be remembered as greatest coach rivalry, even better than Don Revie-Brian Clough who funnily (or fatefully) was also about positive and negative football.