José Mourinho vs. Rafael Benitez: Top Five Duels In Their Rivalry
Both José Mourinho and Rafael Benitez came to England in the summer of 2004 to coach Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively. By that time, no one could guess that these two coaches would create such a compelling rivalry.
From 2004 to 2007, Chelsea and Liverpool faced each other 16 times. 16 intense duels where there was no love lost between two of the best managers in the world.
In the League, Mourinho was clearly better, as his Chelsea squad won five times (the first five) in seven matches.
However, Benitez stopped Mourinho from reaching the final of the Champions League twice, beating Chelsea in both the 2005 and the 2007 semifinals.
In the English Cups (FA Cup, Carling Cup and Charity Shield), they only faced three times, with Benitez getting the better of Mourinho on two of those occasions.
Overall, Mourinho won seven times, Benitez won five, and there were four draws. Mourinho's Chelsea scored 16 goals and Benitez's Liverpool scored 12.
One may argue that Chelsea had more money and thus Mourinho had better players, but Benitez did a great job and he's the one who stopped Chelsea from winning a much sought-after Champions League title.
The following are, in my opinion, the five best duels during their rivalry in England:
5. Liverpool vs. Chelsea, 1-4 (2005/2006 Premier League)
The most one-sided match of their rivalry. With Drogba setting up three of the four goals, Chelsea demolished Liverpool at Anfield Road.
For the third consecutive time, Mourinho beat Benitez in a Premier League match (he would stretch that record to five victories in a row).
We were just in the middle of October and, after this blowout victory, Chelsea was already 17 points ahead of Liverpool. After this match, Benitez knew he couldn't lead Liverpool to the 2006 Premier League title.
4. Chelsea vs. Liverpool, 3-2 (2004/2005 Carling Cup Final)
The only Cup match where Mourinho managed to beat Benitez.
John Arne Riise scored in the first minute and Liverpool seemed on their way to the win. However, an unfortunate own goal by Steven Gerrard forced extra-time.
Jose Mourinho was sent off for taunting Liverpool fans after the goal and he had to watch on television as his side went on to win the game.
3. Liverpool vs. Chelsea, 2-1 (2005/2006 FA Cup Semifinals)
Chelsea were dominating the Premier League and they were heavy favorites coming into this FA Cup semifinal at Old Trafford, especially as they had beat Liverpool in both league matches (4-1 and 2-0).
But Rafa showed once again that he is the master of knockout matches. He outwitted Mourinho and Liverpool won, 2-1.
Riise and Luis Garcia scored for the Reds to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead. Drogba scored for Chelsea, but it was too late for a comeback.
Liverpool were the deserved winners.
At the end of the match, tension was apparent between Mourinho and Benitez, as they didn't even shake hands.
In the beginning of the 2006/2007 season, Liverpool and Chelsea faced again, this time in the Charity Shield. Benitez won again, 2-1.
2. Chelsea vs. Liverpool, 0-0 and 0-1 (2005 Champions League Semifinals)
Before the 2005 Champions League semifinals, Chelsea had beaten Liverpool three times during the season.
Mourinho looked on his way to retain the Champions League title he had won in 2004 with Porto. Chelsea were heavy favorites.
In the first match in Stamford Bridge, Chelsea had the initiative, but Liverpool managed to hold on to a 0-0 draw.
In Anfield Road, Liverpool won 1-0 and advanced to the final, with a controversial goal scored by Luis Garcia.
"The best team lost. The linesman thought they scored one goal and we didn't score, so we lost," said Mourinho after the match.
But the truth is Benitez beat Mourinho and he'd eventually win the Champions League, something that Mourinho never did with Chelsea.
1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool, 1-0 and 0-1 (2007 Champions League Semifinals)
Once again, Benitez destroyed Mourinho's dream of winning a Champions League with Chelsea.
It was another intense affair. Chelsea won 1-0 at home in the first leg. In the second leg, Liverpool responded with a 1-0 win, too.
The match had to be decided in a penalty shootout, and Liverpool prevailed once again.
Liverpool would lose the final against AC Milan, but Benitez can be proud of the fact that, on two occasions, he stopped Mourinho from winning a Champions League in Chelsea.
So these are, as far as I'm concerned, the high points of a rivalry between two of the greatest managers in the world, José Mourinho and Rafael Benitez.
Will there be a next chapter?
Benitez will now coach Inter while Mourinho will coach Real Madrid. There's a possibility that the two might face off again in this season's Champions League group stage, or even further ahead in the competition.
Will Benitez manage to stop Mourinho again? Who's the better of the two?