Mourinho, Guardiola renew rivalry in Super Cup
PRAGUE (AP) — Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho renew their rivalry on Friday when Bayern Munich and Chelsea meet in the UEFA Super Cup, giving both coaches an opportunity to win a first piece of continental silverware with their new clubs.
When Guardiola and Mourinho were coaching Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, they met in 11 “el clasico” matches and were hardly complimentary about each other.
Things appear to have changed, though.
“It’s not about me and Pep,” said Mourinho, who is back at Chelsea for a second spell. “It’s about Chelsea and it’s about Bayern Munich. And it’s about the Super Cup where the European champion (plays) against the Europe League champion. And Pep’s not the European champion and I’m not the Europa League champion.
“We just coach now the European champion and the Europa League champion. So, this is not about us, it’s about Chelsea and Bayern.”
Guardiola, who ended his one-year sabbatical to take over at Bayern, echoed that.
“Millions, millions people around the world are watching these two marvelous teams, two marvelous clubs, for the players, not for the coaches,” Guardiola said.
After winning the Super Cup with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, Guardiola can become the first coach to win the trophy three times, while his opponent has never won it.
“It’s not a competition, it’s a match that gives a trophy,” Mourinho said. “If anyone of us says he doesn’t want to try to win the trophy, it’s not true. Everybody wants to try.”
Bayern was European football’s dominant force last year, winning the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the German Cup.
“Only perfect teams can do it,” said Mourinho, who name-checked attacking midfielders Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben as players to watch.
“It’s a fantastic team, the team of players in the best moment of their careers.”
Under Mourinho, Chelsea has started the English season strongly by picking up seven points out of a possible nine in the Premier League and will be coming off a 0-0 draw at reigning champion Manchester United on Monday.
“We can compete against them,” Mourinho said of Bayern. “And when you compete eye to eye, it means that you think you can win. And we think we can.”
Guardiola will struggle to better Bayern’s unprecedented success of last season, although the German power has never won a Super Cup.
However, the former Spain midfielder is regarded as one of Europe’s premier coaches, winning 14 titles over four seasons at Barca, and lost just two of those 11 matches against Mourinho.
And he knows Mourinho’s tactics well.
“Quick counterattacks. He’s a master in these actions,” Guardiola said.
“When you’re in a good position and you have the ball and when you lose the ball, you’re done,” added Guardiola, who described Mourinho as “an excellent trainer.”
The Super Cup will be played in Prague after 15 years being staged in Monaco.