The two European trebles of the Blaugrana came under these legendary tacticians.
Guardiola executed champagne football in his very first year in charge of a senior club, winning all six out of six trophies in that year. He followed that up with a magnificent league and cup double while maintaining the same standards but unfortunately lost out to a stubborn Inter Milan led by the Special One Jose Mourinho in the semi-finals of the Champions League 2010.
In the next season, FC Barcelona played some of the best football that history has ever seen, emasculating and teasing their opponents and made their way to another Champions League and La Liga success.
Luis Enrique, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola together at Barcelona, 1997/98. pic.twitter.com/pdWYdkLNdk
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) October 17, 2018
Guardiola’s last season was mostly marked by disappointment. Barcelona came agonisingly close to defending their Champions League crown, but a freak Ramires goal in the second leg of the semi-final coupled with a missed penalty from Messi made sure Di Matteo’s Chelsea won their maiden Champions League in Munich. He also lost out the La Liga to Jose Mourinho‘s Real Madrid.
Luis Enrique, who played with Guardiola at Barcelona took over the club in 2014 after a trophyless season under Tata Martino. Despite getting off to a slow start, the MSN started clicking by the end of that year which heralded Barcelona’s juggernaut run in Europe led by the magnificent trio.
In the summer of 2015, Barcelona created history yet again by becoming the first team to win the treble twice.
While the following season in began with much adrenaline, Barcelona ran out of gas during the business end of that season(2015-16) and fell short in the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola (Manchester City manager): “In my career as a manager, I played against incredible sides. There are two that were ‘Wow’. One is Barcelona with Luis Enrique, with Neymar, Messi and Suárez up front. The other team is Liverpool.” [via sport] pic.twitter.com/I3udh6C0gn
— barcacentre (@barcacentre) May 6, 2019
By Luis Enrique’s last season with the club, Barcelona had lost its midfield stability and balance on the pitch and it creaked a huge chasm that was exploited by both PSG and ultimately by Juventus in the Champions League, leaving the Catalans settling for just the Copa del Rey.
From both the iconic stints under these exceptional coaches, we run down how they were greatly similar in their tactics and yet had a vast difference as well.
Similarities between Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique’s Barcelona:
1. Formation and playing out from the back
Both the managers deployed a 4-3-3 and while Pep had Victor Valdes, Luis Enrique had Marc Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo to play out from the back. Those keepers made it easier for the centre-backs to exchange possession and build slowly from the back, taking advantage of the entire pitch and reaching the opposition final third where the forwards could exploit defensive lines with their creativity.
The Manchester City manager won 14 trophies with FC Barcelona
2. Juego de Posicion
The style of football that is often wrongly termed as ‘tiki-taka’ and was popularised by Guardiola’s Barcelona and Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish National Team is actually known as Juego de Posicion which focuses on positional play.
Luis Enrique also adopted this extensively in his first two seasons at the club, though not to the extent as Pep did. The idea was to master positions all over the pitch in order to create the shapes of triangles that always made passing options available.
In this way, Barcelona dominated possession and made the best use of spaces while playing a very eye-catching game that would leave fans and oppositions equally starstruck.
3. Emphasis on attack
Both Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique are proactive managers that stress on their respective teams taking the emphasis. This involved spending the most time in the attacking third of the opposition and creating a host of chances throughout the game from where scoring became easier.
Differences between Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique’s Barcelona:
1. Passage through midfield
By his last season, the movements under Luis Enrique became very direct. It would often see them bypassing the midfield in order to reach the front three of Messi, Neymar, Suárez. Most of the weight of the team was carried by those forwards and the overdependence bore a hole in Barcelona’s ship that sunk by the final stretches of the season leaving the team extremely unbalanced.
This is in direct contrast to Pep Guardiola’s methods who prioritises the midfield and forms it the basis for his attacking, defending and transitional directives.
2. Use of fullbacks
While Guardiola gave Dani Alves the freedom to roam up the match that saw him forming a formidable combination with Messi and being a threat in attack, he asked Abidal at left-back to tuck back and provide a 3-man defensive cover to compensate for Alves’ surges forward.
Luis Enrique had Jordi Alba, an attack-minded left-back and he gave Alba the licence to roam forward as well.
In his first season, both Alves and Alba formed an attack-oriented fullback duo (in the same mould as Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson do for Liverpool now). But after Dani’s departure, Enrique utilised Sergi Roberto as a makeshift right-back. The order for Alba to venture forward was much clearer than the one to Sergi Roberto.
Luis fully utilised the attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar
3. Treatment of youth
Pep Guardiola handed first-team debuts to Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez from Barca B with both solidifying their positions in his system and going on to become world-class talents under his tutelage.
Pep Guardiola was also involved closely with the B team ensuring that players got optimal chances under him which include the likes of Thiago, Sergi Roberto, Isaac Cuenca, Bojan, Cristian Tello. Luis Enrique, on the other hand did not trust Barcelona’s youth and was contented with letting go of many talented players including Alejandro Grimaldo.