Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are two of the most successful football managers in the world at this moment. The two managers have fought tooth and nail every time they have come head to head.
Pep and Jose were new arrivals at their respective clubs this season, Manchester City and Manchester United. Both the managers were favourites to win the league at the start of the season and had started strongly. But since the Manchester derby, Mourinho's team has faltered.
First United lost 1-2 to City at Old Trafford. Then they travelled to Feyenoord, for the Europa League fixture, where they were beaten 1-0. Finally, Watford defeated Mourinho's team 3-1 at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Manchester City have maintained their perfect start to the season with the full 15 points available in their kitty and sit on top of the league table and a commanding win over German side Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League.
Here we share a list of five tactical differences between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
5) Pep's wide attack vs Mourinho's narrow defence
What Pep Guardiola has brought to the Manchester City table is his innovation and tactical genius. This season we have seen Guardiola pioneering a new formation where the full-backs cut inside thereby acting as extra midfielders. The Spanish mastermind is using Bacary Sagna and Aleksander Kolarov as his inverted full-backs and both of them have thrived in this role.
The wingers Nolito and Raheem Sterling stay wide waiting to make incisive runs behind the opposition defence. This adds an extra dimension to the Sky Blues’ attack as they always seem to have extra men available while attacking.
Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, prefers a flatter backline that stays narrow while defending. Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia operate as United's full-backs and overlap frequently while the two defensive midfielders rarely go up to attack. Eric Bailly and Daily Blind also sit back to defend the fort.
4) Pep's counter-pressing vs Mourinho's low pressing
Guardiola has infused extra energy in the City line-up as they press the opponents as soon as the ball is lost. The aim is to win the ball back quickly or force the opposition to a negative transition. The entire idea of counter-pressing is to prevent the opposition from making counter-attacks.
Each City player presses the opposition to force them to lose the ball. What Guardiola has added with the pressing, is swift counter-attacking.
As soon as the ball is revived, Kevin De Bryune and David Silva look to play forward passes to Sergio Aguero (Kelechi Iheanacho since his suspension), Nolito and Sterling, as the pacey trio make inward runs to the opposition box.
Mourinho, however, prefers his team to defend deep and try to not concede a goal. All eleven players stay in their own half waiting to win the ball from the opponent. Central defenders Eric Bailly and Daley Blind had done a commendable job till the City game, before, De Bryune and Iheanacho found gaps in the defence.
3) Pep's ground passing vs Mourinho's long-ball
Pep Guardiola is known for his tiki-taka football from his days in Barcelona. Bayern Munich played in a similar fashion, only their build up was much faster and more direct.
At City, the philosophy is no different, with Kevin De Bryune and David Silva pairing up in central midfield along with holding midfielder, Fernandinho (or Ilkay Gundogan, who is just back from injury). The trio keeps possession with swift touches and short ground passing and dominates the midfield.
The build-up starts from goalkeeper Claudio Bravo getting the two central defenders involved. Ball playing centre-half John Stones also joins the attack as they look to thread deft passes for the attackers.
United, on the other hand, look to play long balls as the big men Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba bringing the ball down deep in the opponent half. David de Gea, Daily Blind, and Wayne Rooney have been assigned to pick out the players with their long passing range.
2) Pep's possession based attack vs Mourinho's counter-attack
Pep Guardiola has a philosophy of possession-based football since his early days as a manager. The former Barcelona player prefers this style of play as it allows his team to control the game.
Manchester City have dominated possession in all their games this season and a successful pass completion rate certainly helps the cause. Each of City's players, including Bravo, is capable of picking out the right passes and keeping the ball.
United look to wait in their own half and retrieve the ball through interceptions and tackles. As soon as they win the ball, the Red Devils break into a fast counter-attack. With the pace of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford upfront and the technique of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they look to turn defence into attack in a few moments.
This has been Mourinho's tactics against all possession based teams over the years and it has worked for him more than once.
1) Pep's False 9 vs Mourinho's 'False' 10
In the forward line, Guardiola is accustomed to playing with a False 9. The False 9, in some ways similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder/playmaker role, is an unconventional lone striker or centre-forward, who drops deep into midfield.
The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing centre-backs who can either follow him, leaving space behind them for onrushing midfielders or wingers to exploit, or leaving him to have time and space to dribble or pick out a pass. Lionel Messi had excelled in this role for Guardiola at the Camp Nou and both Aguero and Iheanacho are capable of playing this role.
The problem for Mourinho in his coaching career has been to include a proper number 10 in his style of gameplay. Be it in Real Madrid with Mesut Ozil or in Chelsea with Juan Mata, he had faced this problem. At United, Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been used as wingers so far, with Rooney taking the deeper role behind the striker.
He likes a strong forward like Ibrahimovic or Didier Drogba to play as the target-man, whose main function is to score the majority of goals on behalf of the team. Along with Ibrahimovic, Mourinho has Marcus Rashford who has caught the eye of many with his performances.