Watford have a tough task on their hands as they attempt to prevent Manchester City winning the domestic treble, something no side in England has ever achieved.
City won the League Cup back in February on penalties against Chelsea before holding off the challenge of Liverpool on the final day in the Premier League to secure two trophies for the 2018/19 campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s men can cap off their fantastic season by winning the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday and know they have the best manager in the world in the dugout, watching on. Guardiola has now won the league title in eight of his 11 seasons as a manager; a remarkable achievement but how has he got on in the cup finals?
Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, Guardiola has an imperious record when it comes to finals, winning a remarkable 19 out of 23. His first success came in 2008 with Barcelo B as his side won the play-off final but it was his time with the Barcelona first where he really asserted his dominance.
In his four year spell there he won 11 of 12 finals, including two Champions League titles against Manchester United. His only loss came against that fearsome foe Jose Mourinho, who defeated him in the final of the Copa del Rey as Real Madrid secured a 1-0 win over Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the winning goal after extra time.
Guardiola’s Spanish dominance came to an end in 2012 when he had a short sabbatical before taking over at Bayern Munich. He was actually much less dominant in Bavaria than you may expect, given that he won three league titles in his time in Germany. He won four of seven major finals Bayern competing in between 2013-16, battling with then Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp to win silverware.
Dortmund handed Guardiola his second and third final defeats in the German Supercup, before Bayern lost that same trophy to Wolfsburg in 2015. Guardiola ended his time in Germany with a German Cup win over Dortmund once Jurgen Klopp had left for Liverpool.
At Manchester City, his current club, he is yet to lose at Wembley. His success started with the League Cup win over Arsenal last year, before his side beat Chelsea to the Charity Shield, and Sarri’s men for a second time in this year’s League Cup final. Watford manager Javi Gracia would join an exclusive list of just three managers who have beaten Guardiola in a final if he can scoop the trophy this weekend, with Klopp, Mourinho and former Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking the only men to have got the better of him.
But how does Guardiola compare to some of his managerial rivals? Jose Mourinho is the main one who springs to mind and his winning percentage in final is even higher than Guardiola’s. Having featured in 14 finals, Mourinho has won 12, giving him a winning percentage of more than 85%. Guardiola’s winning percentage is 82.6% by comparison. But both of these records dwarf the efforts of Jurgen Klopp who famously struggles to get his side over the line in big finals.
Including Supercups, he has won just three of his 11 finals, with all of those successes coming with Borussia Dortmund. The closest he has come with Liverpool was last season’s Champions League final loss against Real Madrid although they will get a chance to put that right this season as they take on Tottenham in the final in Madrid.
For Manchester City fans, they will be hoping Pep can keep up his simply superb final record and pick up the oldest trophy in football for the first time this weekend.