Marca’s headline today tells you all you need to know. “Pep Guardiola: The Scourge of the Bernabeu returns.”
The Madrid-based paper certainly doesn’t hold back on the man who has caused them so much pain. The very definition of the word scourge is “a person that causes great trouble or suffering” and boy has Guardiola made the volatile Madrid crowd bay for blood in the past.
Clearly, this hatred runs deep and began when Guardiola was busy transforming hated rivals Barcelona into one of the greatest teams the world has ever seen. The first time he visited the Bernabeu as a manager, he left the hosts in complete and utter shock.
Deploying Lionel Messi as a false nine for the first time, he created a monster as Barca ran riot, winning 6-2 on their way to complete and utter dominance that season. Guardiola won all six trophies that were available to him in 2009 as Los Blancos watched on with envy.
At the peak of his rivalry with then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, things truly started to get heated. Mourinho had, as always, painted Guardiola as the enemy of not just Madrid but Spanish football. Before their meeting at the Bernabeu in the most fearsome Champions League semi-final in recent memory, Guardiola uncharacteristically snapped.
"Tomorrow at 8.45, we will play a match on the field," Guardiola said. "Outside of the field, he has won the entire year, the entire season and in the future [it will be the same]. He can have his personal Champions League outside the field. Fine. Let him enjoy it, I'll give him that.
"In this room [Real Madrid's press room], he is the chief, the f**king man. In here he is the f**king man and I can't compete with him. If Barcelona want someone who competes with that, then they should look for another manager.”
This came after years of jibes from Madrid’s corner and for most onlookers, it appeared that finally, Mourinho had broken his rival ahead of the biggest game of the season for both sides. Madrid had won the pre-match talk and Barcelona seemed rattled but the Blaugrana players loved it. Their quiet gaffer was fighting back and on the pitch, the players took the fight to their opponents. Although the two sides were evenly matched, it was the ridiculous Lionel Messi who once again proved to be the difference-maker for Barca.
This was the crowning glory for Guardiola at the Bernabeu and he left Barcelona with an unbeaten record in their illustrious rivals’ backyard, visiting seven times without defeat. However, when he moved to Munich to take charge of Bayern, he would taste his one and only career defeat at the Bernabeu.
This time in the Champions League semi-final his side would fall 1-0 to the eventual champions at Real Madrid’s Colosseum, before being dismantled in the second leg in Germany.
Throughout Guardiola’s illustrious career he has always kept those subtle jibes at Real Madrid going. I guess that is all part of being a Barcelona legend. After Real Madrid won their third Champions League title in a row under tonight’s opposing manager Zinedine Zidane, he took great pleasure in ruffling a few feathers at the Bernabeu.
"Real Madrid are not the best team of the decade," Guardiola said. "When you count league and cups, and other things.
"Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have won [their league] six or seven times, and Real Madrid just twice."
Tonight, the greatest manager of the modern era will resume his rivalry with Madrid once more, this time as Manchester City manager. City’s record in the Spanish capital is poor, having lost both times they faced the Los Blancos away from home. In Guardiola though, they have a man at the helm who knows exactly how to come out on top as the away side. His overall record at the Bernabeu reads: “P8, W5 D2 L1.”
The reception will be frosty, but don’t back against Guardiola making another small piece of history tonight. The first Manchester City manager to win at the Bernabeu? Definitely maybe...
5 victorias, 2 empates y uno solo perdido.
MaÃ±ana vuelve a ese lugar donde le quieren tanto...