Five facts on Pep Guardiola
Five facts on Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
1 - As a coach, Guardiola has taken much of his inspiration from Johan Cruyff, under whom he played in Barcelona's 'Dream Team' of the early 1990s. But equally important in helping shape Guardiola's footballing philosophy was Juanma Lillo. Never a professional player, Spaniard Lillo is a journeyman coach who signed Guardiola for Mexican club Dorados de Sinaloa at the end of the latter's playing career. When Guardiola started out as coach of Barcelona B, Lillo helped him prepare training sessions. Later, in 2010, Lillo was sacked as coach of La Liga club Almeria after an 8-0 defeat to...Guardiola's Barcelona.
2 - When Barcelona reached the 1986 European Cup final, beating Gothenburg on penalties, Guardiola was a 15-year-old ballboy. The first photographs taken of Guardiola on the Camp Nou turf are of him racing towards Victor Munoz, the scorer of the decisive penalty in the shootout, to ask him for his shirt. His first appearance on the same pitch as a Barca player came more than four years later, against Cadiz in December 1990.
3 - Guardiola's record as a coach makes for remarkable reading, with 17 major trophies already secured since he became coach of Barcelona's first team in 2008. But not everyone has been convinced. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played under Guardiola at the Camp Nou in 2009-10, has called him a 'spineless coward' in his autobiography while Samuel Eto'o recently told French television that Guardiola "never had the courage to say things to my face". He added: "I reminded Guardiola that he had never been a great player."
4 - Guardiola has experienced plenty of highs and lows at the Santiago Bernabeu. In his first season in charge of Barca, the Catalans famously won 6-2 away to Madrid. He also captained the Barcelona side that beat Betis at the Bernabeu in the 1997 Copa del Rey final, but was part of the team humbled 5-0 by Madrid there in January 1995, when Ivan Zamorano scored a hat-trick.
5 - When Guardiola faces the press in the bowels of the Bernabeu after Wednesday's game, his mind is sure to be drawn back to his media conference prior to the 2011 semi-final first leg between his Barcelona and Real Madrid. That day he hit back at months of provocation from opposite number Jose Mourinho in explosive fashion.
"In this room, he is the chief, the fucking man. In here he is the fucking man and I can't compete with him. If Barcelona want someone who competes with that, then they should look for another manager," he said.
"Outside of the field, he has won the entire year, the entire season and in the future. He can have his personal Champions League outside the field. Fine. Let him enjoy it, I'll give him that. But this is a game. When it comes to sport we will play and sometimes we will win, sometimes we will lose. We are happy with smaller victories, trying to get the world to admire us and we are very proud of this."
Barcelona won the tie and went on to win the trophy, beating Manchester United in the final.