Manchester United take on Manchester City in the first Manchester Derby of the season at Old Trafford later this week.
While there are a number of reasons why this fixture is a highly anticipated one, the most important is perhaps the clash of Mourinho and Guardiola.
Once friends, the two managers are not exactly on great terms now. The two have clashed repeatedly during their time in Spain and more of the same is expected now.
Both managers have had an excellent start to the new season and it should be a fascinating battle between two of the best managers in world football, this weekend.
Here is a detailed look at Guardiola and Mourinho’s tactics at Manchester City and Manchester United so far.
Pep Guardiola’s tactics at Manchester City so far
Manchester City have managed to dismantle their opponents with effortless ease and certain similarities with Pep’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich are already evident.
Guardiola’s tendency to involve his full backs more during the buildup, his use of a lone pivot and the choice of creative central midfielders is already similar to that of his previous teams.
The likes of Clichy and Sagna are much more involved in the buildup rather than being an outlet.
Furthermore, just like Busquets and Alonso, Pep has chosen Fernandinho as his lone pivot and the Brazilian has been excellent so far.
His job is to help his side build from the back, controlling the tempo and then dropping back to cover when one of the centre backs advance with the ball.
So far, John Stones has played the key role of a ball playing defender for Pep. Just like Pique and Martinez, the former Everton defender is allowed to advance from time to time and participate in playmaking from the deep.
Also, Guardiola’s choice of central midfielders has been particularly interesting. David Silva has been used in the Iniesta role so far and the Spaniard has taken to it really well.
His intelligent movement, positioning, and flair on the ball has given City a much-needed outlet every time they have the possession and are under pressure.
Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has a similar role in the 4-3-3, but he has struggled to adapt so far. De Bruyne has the technique and skill set to operate as the central midfielder and will perhaps improve with time.
Pep’s use of Nolito, Sterling and Aguero is hardly surprising. Much like the Barcelona trio of Messi, Villa, and Pedro, Aguero is the lone forward with the license to drop deep, take on players and make runs.
Nolito and Sterling’s roles are similar to that of Villa and Pedro.
Jose Mourinho’s tactics at Manchester United so far
Manchester United’s game plan so far has been fairly simple and pretty much expected.
Mourinho identified the lack of a physically imposing centre back at Manchester United immediately and addressed it with the signing of Bailly. The absence of a midfielder who can drive the team forward and help in quick transitions was sorted with the signing of Paul Pogba.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the powerful, aerially impressive and technically gifted target man Mourinho has always used.
Mourinho’s game plan at Manchester United so far has been based on efficient breaking up of the play, quick transitions and increased service into the box.
Unlike Guardiola, Mourinho is not an advocate of possession based football. The Portuguese manager was quoted saying in his autobiography: “Whoever renounces possession reduces the possibility of making a mistake” and “whoever has the ball has fear”.
Mourinho prefers his defenders (Blind and Bailly) to circulate the ball quicker when they have it, let the creative players take over and move it forward from defense to attack with powerful and technically gifted box-to-box midfielders (Pogba).
The former Chelsea manager wants to make the most of the possession and instead of sideways and backward passes, his players have been instructed to provide more service to Zlatan. The powerful Swede has done a great job holding up the play, proving his teammates with a target in and around the box.
The powerful Swede has done a great job holding up the play and providing his teammates with a target in and around the box. Also, his world class finishing abilities has allowed Manchester United to finish off the half chances.
Key battles to look forward to in the Manchester Derby
The main highlight of this Sunday’s clash with be the battle between Mourinho’s powerful football and Guardiola’s relaxed approach based on possession football.
Both sides are playing to their strengths and it should be a fascinating contest. Here are some of the key battles that could decide the game for either side.
Otamendi vs Ibrahimovic
The Argentine defender will be tasked with stopping Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Otamendi’s career in England has been very inconsistent so far and he will be up against one of the best players in world football.
Ibrahimovic has been in supreme form so far and will look to prove a point against his former manager Pep Guardiola. The two had a fall out during their time at Barcelona and the Swedish striker described him as a “spineless coward”.
David Silva vs Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini has done a very good job in breaking up the play for Mourinho so far.
The Belgian will be asked to stop David Silva this weekend. Most of City’s intricate buildups go through the Spaniard and stopping him would be damaging for Pep’s plans.
Finally, Manchester United defenders will be delighted with the news that Sergio Aguero will miss the derby due to suspension. It will be interesting to see how Pep compensates for the Argentine’s loss this weekend. Sterling or Iheanacho could start up front for the away side, but it’s not an issue Eric Bailly can’t deal with.
Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho Head to Head stats so far
Matches played: 16