Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew their coaching rivalry when Chelsea meet Bayern Munich in the European Super Cup on Friday in Prague.
Neither of the two was in charge of the respective sides when Chelsea beat Bayern on penalties for the 2012 Champions League crown, nor when Bayern won the 2013 Champions League and Chelsea the Europa League, but their presence adds extra spice to the game.
Guardiola and Mourinho had a fierce rivalry between 2010 and 2012 while in charge at Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, with Guardiola getting the upper hand as part of a run to 14 titles overall during his Barca tenure from 2008 until 2012.
Now he has moved on to Bayern where he has a hard act to follow as Jupp Heynckes led Bayern to a title treble in the Bundesliga, German cup and Champions League in the past season.
Mourinho was quoted in Germany’s Bild am Sonntag paper as expressing doubts whether Bayern will be as good this season under his old foe Guardiola.
“It was Jupp Heynckes’s Bayern that was the best team in Europe.
Now they have a new coach and new players -- and I’m not sure if they are still as good,” he said.
Guardiola did get a first taste of the difficulties he faces when Bayern were held 1-1 by Freiburg on Tuesday in the Bundesliga. The coach rested seven regular starters and the reserves were wasteful after Xherdan Shaqiri had put Munich 1-0 up.
Guardiola will field his strongest team on Friday but faces a dilemma on the holding midfielder position. Thiago and Javi Martinez are injured and Bastian Schweinsteiger limped off in Freiburg with a sprained ankle that makes his presence in Prague highly doubtful.
Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan, has been welcomed back with open arms at Chelsea, where he first coached 2004-2007. He reiterated to uefa.com that he is “at the club where I want to be. I’m in the country where I want to be.” The Blues got a 0-0 draw at Premier League champions Manchester United on Monday and Mourinho named the game against Bayern a welcome test ahead of the next Champions League after Chelsea became the first holders to go out in the group stage a year ago.
“To play against the best team in the world in the last year, because they were amazing last year, is a big challenge for us. It is good for us to measure where we are in terms of playing against the best,” Mourinho said.
Chelsea won the European Super Cup back in 1998 while Bayern are yet to lift the trophy which is sometimes considered less important than other titles but still desirable to win.
“It’s a one-match competition so in football terms it doesn’t mean much but it’s a cup with prestige, it’s a cup that every club would like to add to their trophy room. So we have to try,” Mourinho said.
Munich winger Arjen Robben, who scored their late 2-1 winner in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, struck a similar note.
“We’ve won the Champions League, so this is a new title we can win this year and one we have never won before,” Mourinho told uefa.com.