Antonio Conte vs. Pep Guardiola: Who's the Better Coach and Why?

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Antonio Conte vs. Pep Guardiola: Who's the Better Coach and Why?
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola has been out of football for almost an entire season, so while Jose Mourinho would like to tell us all that he is clearly the best manager in European football, there might be another candidate, also in with a great chance of winning the Champions League.

Antonio Conte is currently building a superb career at Juventus and backing up his a brilliant unbeaten season in Serie A, which resulted in him delivering the Bianconeri's first scudetto in nine years.

Back-to-back scudetti is almost assured, and greater things await the Old Lady in the shape of a quarterfinal in the Champions League against Guardiola's next club, Bayern Munich.

While Guardiola has been widely heralded as the best manager in the world, I think there's an argument to suggest Conte is currently the better coach.

While Guardiola made his name with tiki-taka, Conte is hardly producing ugly football with the Old Lady.

Guardiola sometimes switched away from his preferred 4-3-3 formation, using a back three, but Conte surely has the upper hand regarding tactics.

Juve have brilliantly utilised the 3-5-2, a formation sparsely used around Europe before Conte arrived at the Juventus Stadium. It is a tremendously demanding formation, but Conte has ensured that the Bianconeri remain a complete side.

The three centre-backs provide a defensive foundation that Barcelona could never rely on under Guardiola, and although the Blaugrana made up for the defensive vulnerability with their intense pressing higher up the pitch, Conte's side regain possession in an equally effective fashion.

The Bianconeri manage to win possession by hunting in numbers like Barcelona did under Guardiola, but Juve tend to box off areas of the pitch, rather than press the ball, forcing the opposition into sloppy passes rather than getting close enough to make a tackle.

The midfield is an interesting comparison as Conte has managed to get an equally effective passing unit out of a similarly talented trio of centre-midfielders, but Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio offer plenty more besides.

Conte encourages patient, short passes like Guardiola does, but there is also the tendency for one of the trio to dissect the opposition with one pass from deep.

The movement off the ball from Conte's midfielders also offers the team something extra, relieving pressure off the front two by often finding themselves in scoring positions to spread the goals around the team.

Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

While Guardiola did not have to find such a solution due to Lionel Messi's unparalleled scoring record, Conte's system would clearly have more chance of being successful with more teams than Guardiola's, who will need to refine his style without the best player in the world.

We will not know Guardiola's greatness until his next experience with Bayern, as Barcelona continue to be the team to beat in the Champions League, not only under Tito Vilanova, but without the current manager over the last month or so due to illness. This suggests that Barcelona is self-sufficient, and that Guardiola's work might have been overstated.

Conte has built a wonderfully versatile squad, and his ability to diversify his methods of victories make him stand out as one of the best managers in world football. He probably edges Guardiola when comparing the their influence on their team's success.

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