Battle of the Blues: Mauricio Pochettino vs Pep Guardiola

By Sameer Naik16 February 2024

Battle of the Blues: Mauricio Pochettino vs Pep Guardiola

Guardiola and Pochettino were opponents during their playing days in La Liga in the 1990s. As managers, the pair have faced one another in the Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and the Champions League. Guardiola has a big edge in this head-to-head between Marcelo Bielsa’s disciples, but who will prevail when Chelsea takes on Manchester City on 17 February 2024?

Not many managers in world football can claim to have outsmarted Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola, widely regarded as the best football manager in the world, has consistently secured titles in every league he has managed in, including the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga.

Over his impressive 17-year career as a manager, very few have managed to come out on top against him.

However, one of the very few managers who can proudly boast a better head-to-head record against Guardiola is Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.

But what about Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino?

As we approach the Battle of the Blues this weekend, Showmax delves into how Pochettino matches up against the formidable Spaniard.

Pep vs Poch

Since his return to the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino has been determined to prove himself.

During his previous stint with Tottenham Hotspur, he was unable to win any major silverware, so his arrival at Stamford Bridge this season offered him a second chance. However, things haven’t gone according to plan for Pochettino, as he has faced numerous battles in his pursuit of a top-four spot. Currently, Chelsea finds themselves in 10th place, making their upcoming game against Manchester City one of the most difficult of the season.

Pochettino and his team will travel to Manchester to face the Cityzens in the late kick-off on Saturday. Many have written off Pochettino’s chances, but the Argentine manager is relishing the opportunity to
go up against Pep Guardiola once again. Pochettino has faced Guardiola a remarkable 23 times, more than any other manager he has come up against. However, his record against the Manchester City boss doesn’t make for great reading. Out of those 23 matches, Pochettino has only won four, drawn six, and lost a staggering 13 games.

Despite this, one of Pochettino’s most memorable victories came against Guardiola’s City in the Champions League quarter-finals. Tottenham and City drew the tie 4-4 on aggregate, but Spurs advanced on away goals after scoring three at the Etihad Stadium.

The friendly rivalry between Pochettino and Guardiola dates back to their playing days when they faced each other in the Catalan derby. Over the past three decades, they have gone head-to-head in Spain, France, and England, as well as in the Champions League. Their first meeting was in 2009 when Pochettino’s Espanyol took on Guardiola’s Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals. The first leg ended in a 0-0 draw, but Espanyol secured a 2-1 victory in the second leg, earning their first derby win in 27 years.

The two teams met again the following season, with Barcelona winning 1-0 thanks to a first-half penalty converted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They played out a goalless draw in their next encounter, with Barcelona’s Dani Alves being sent off. Barcelona then registered a resounding 5-1 victory over Espanyol, with Lionel Messi scoring four goals. Pochettino’s side suffered another defeat in the derby, this time losing 2-0.

Pochettino managed to secure a draw against Guardiola’s Barcelona in their final meeting as managers of their respective clubs. Espanyol scored a late equaliser through Alvaro Vazquez after Cesc Fabregas had put Barcelona in front. However, Barcelona had the last laugh, winning 4-0 in their next encounter, with Lionel Messi scoring all four goals.

After more than four years apart, Pochettino and Guardiola faced each other again, this time in the Premier League. Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur secured a 2-0 victory, handing Guardiola his first top-flight defeat in England. They met again later in the season, with the match ending in a thrilling 2-2 draw. Guardiola finally got the better of Pochettino in their next two meetings, winning 4-1 and 3-1.

Their most memorable clash came in the 2019 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, with Pochettino’s Spurs eliminating Guardiola’s City on away goals. Tottenham won the first leg 1-0, and although they lost the second leg 4-3, they advanced to the next round. Just three days later, the two managers faced each other again in the Premier League, with City winning 1-0.

When Pochettino moved to Paris Saint-Germain, he faced Guardiola’s City in the Champions League semi-finals. PSG won the first leg 2-1, but City came back strong in the second leg, winning 2-0 and advancing to the final. The two teams were drawn together in the group stage of the 2021/22 Champions League, with PSG winning 2-0.

Pochettino’s final meeting with Guardiola while at PSG ended in a 2-1 loss for his team. Rumours were swirling at the time that Pochettino would join Guardiola at Manchester City, but he denied that it affected his team’s performance.

Now, as the manager of Chelsea, Pochettino faces another showdown with Guardiola. Their previous encounters have been filled with drama, excitement, and memorable moments. Pochettino will be hoping to turn the tide and secure a victory over Guardiola’s Manchester City, as he continues his quest for a top-four spot in the Premier League.

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