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All managers to defeat Pep Guardiola in cup finals

Published at :June 5, 2024 at 8:48 PM
Modified at :June 5, 2024 at 8:49 PM
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Samannay Sen


The Spanish tactician has an impressive and decorated career as a manager.

Pep Guardiola’s name evokes tactical brilliance, relentless domination and a trophy cabinet overflowing with silverware. But even the most dominant forces have chinks in their armour.

Guardiola boasts an incredible record, winning over 30 trophies across his managerial career at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. This includes multiple league titles, domestic cups and two Champions League victories.

He holds numerous records, including being the youngest manager to win the Champions League and the manager with the most consecutive league wins in LaLiga, Bundesliga and the Premier League. Guardiola’s philosophy revolves around dominating possession. His teams prioritize controlling the ball, dictating the tempo and suffocating opponents through short, precise passing.

Despite his dominance, Pep Guardiola has faced defeats, particularly in cup finals. These losses highlight that even the greatest managers can be beaten with the right strategy and a bit of luck.

While tactical astuteness is crucial, defeating Guardiola requires more than just a well-drilled team. Managers like Mourinho and Tuchel displayed an unwavering belief in their strategies, a mental fortitude needed to overcome a coach known for his meticulous preparation and in-game adjustments.

Pep Guardiola remains a tactical mastermind, but his legacy is not solely built on victories. The managers who have conquered him in cup finals deserve recognition for their tactical innovations, unwavering belief and ability to exploit Guardiola’s vulnerabilities.

Let’s take a look at the managers who have outclassed Pep Guardiola in Cup finals:

5. Jose Mourinho (2010-11 Copa Del Rey final)

Perhaps the most iconic victory against Pep Guardiola came in the 2010-11 Copa Del Rey final, where Jose Mourinho‘s Real Madrid outclassed Barcelona. Mourinho, known for his pragmatic approach, set up his team to nullify Barcelona’s possession-based play with a compact defence and quick counter-attacks. 

His meticulous planning and ability to exploit Barcelona’s weaknesses on the night exposed a chink in Pep Guardiola’s seemingly invincible shield.

4. Jurgen Klopp (2013 DFL Super Cup, 2022 FA Community Shield)

Jurgen Klopp‘s rivalry with Guardiola is well-documented. Their contrasting styles – Klopp’s high-octane pressing versus Pep Guardiola’s possession-based approach – have produced some thrilling encounters. Klopp has gotten the better of Guardiola twice in cup finals – the 2013 DFL Super Cup with Borussia Dortmund and the 2022 FA Community Shield with Liverpool. 

Klopp’s relentless pressing disrupts City’s build-up play, forcing them into errors and creating opportunities for his attack. These victories solidify Klopp’s reputation as a worthy adversary to Guardiola.

3. Thomas Tuchel (2020-21 Champions League final)

In the 2020-21 Champions League final, Thomas Tuchel‘s Chelsea emerged as unlikely victors against Guardiola’s Manchester City. Tuchel, a tactically astute manager known for his adaptability, deployed a similar strategy to Mourinho – stifling City’s possession and capitalizing on defensive lapses. 

Chelsea’s well-drilled defensive unit frustrated City’s attacking rhythm and a clinical counter-attack secured Chelsea’s second Champions League title, highlighting Tuchel’s ability to outwit even the best.

2. Brendan Rodgers (2021 FA Community Shield)

While not a major trophy, Brendan Rodgers‘ victory with Leicester City against Manchester City in the 2021 FA Community Shield holds significance. Rodgers, known for his attacking philosophy with quick transitions and creative freedom for his wingers, exploited City’s defensive frailties on the counter-attack.

This win served as a confidence booster for Leicester and a reminder that even on the biggest stage, Guardiola’s teams are not invincible.

1. Erik ten Hag (2024 FA Cup final)

The most recent entry in the Guardiola conquerors’ list is Erik ten Hag. In the 2024 FA Cup final, Manchester United, under Ten Hag’s leadership, stunned Manchester City with a dominant display. A disciple of the high-pressing style pioneered by Jurgen Klopp, ten Hag deployed a system that neutralized City’s build-up play and created numerous chances for United.

This victory, achieved in Erik Ten Hag‘s first season at the helm, signifies a potential shift in power within Manchester and establishes him as a serious contender to Pep Guardiola’s dominance.

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