Myths have a way to spread in sports, and football in particular. When many fans start saying the same thing, it ends up becoming true in the minds of the masses, even if the reality is quite different.
A great example of a myth is the belief that current Real Madrid manager José Mourinho has got FC Barcelona "figured out," that he is Barcelona's nemesis. While this might sound a beautiful proposition to some, a more careful analysis of the facts makes it easy to conclude that it couldn't be further away from the truth.
José Mourinho is not FC Barcelona's bête noire. It's quite the opposite actually. Here is why:
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Since 2005, José Mourinho has faced FC Barcelona on 15 occasions and he has won a whooping... four, one of them in extra time. He has drawn five teams and lost six. Overall, Mourinho's teams have scored 16 goals, while FC Barcelona scored 22. These definitely don't seem like the numbers of a manager who has Barcelona figured out.
Moreover, the Portuguese has never managed to win a game at Camp Nou in seven attempts: the best he's managed is three draws, and two of them meant his elimination from the Champions League (in the second leg in 2006 with Chelsea and last season with Real Madrid). It was also at the Camp Nou that José Mourinho suffered the biggest humiliation of his career so far, when Barcelona beat his Real Madrid side 5-0.
These numbers clearly prove that José Mourinho hasn't found a successful formula to beat Barcelona.
José Mourinho and FC Barcelona have competed against each other in the Champions League on seven occasions, six if you discount the 2007/2008 season where Mourinho left Chelsea in the middle of the group stages.
On those six occasions (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011), Barcelona won the Champions three times! Mourinho only won it once with Inter (Barcelona did not participate in the 2003/2004 Champions League, which Mourinho won with Porto). If anything, it seems that José Mourinho is a lucky charm for Barcelona. The Catalans only won four Champions Leagues in their history, three of them had Mourinho in it. In two of them, Barcelona beat a Mourinho-managed team en route to the title, and in the other one, they beat the team that eliminated Mourinho (Manchester United in 2009).
To be fair, in the four ties where Barcelona faced a Mourinho-led team, Barcelona and Mourinho split triumphs, but Barcelona won their ties a lot more comfortably and, unlike Mourinho, went on to win the competition on both occasions.
The hype was stronger than ever after José Mourinho's Inter Milan luckily eliminated Barcelona in the 2009/2010 Champions League and the Portuguese manager moved to Real Madrid, Barcelona's eternal rival.
Surely, with this magical manager that had Barcelona's number and the most expensive squad ever assembled at his disposal, Real Madrid would have no problem beating Barcelona in the 2010/2011 Clásicos, right? Wrong. In the first Clásico of the season, Mourinho had no answers as Barcelona mercilessly annihilated Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. José could only watch as he and his team took a true football lesson.
Those who expected a strong reaction in the following Clásico were bitterly disappointed. In a game that Real needed to win in order to have some title hopes, Mourinho set his team out to get a lackluster draw that basically handed Barcelona the league title.
The Copa del Rey title, ground out in extra time, was weak consolation, since the semifinals of the Champions League once again proved that Mourinho was no match for FC Barcelona. Mourinho had no answer to Lionel Messi. As the world's greatest player once again stole the show, Mourinho could do nothing but utter some deluded "Por Qués?".
In the end, Barcelona took the two most important trophies, while Mourinho had to settle for the Spanish Cup. While it's not exactly bad, it's not what you expect from a manager who supposedly has Barcelona figured out.
José Mourinho's record against Barcelona could be considered great if he were managing some minnows with no resources. But that's just not the case. Both in Chelsea and Real Madrid, he managed the most expensively assembled squads in the world at the given time, and there was no lack of resources at Inter either.
All these three sides have the resources to go head to head with Barcelona, so the only explanation for Mourinho's negative record against the Catalans is that, while he is a great manager (hence why he's got some wins), he does not have Barcelona figured out. He merely instructs his teams to defend as roughly as possible and try to surprise Barcelona on the counter, and most of the time, that has not worked.
Even if his Real Madrid one day match Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, that is hardly proof of Mourinho's unparalleled genius. Contrary to what he and the press wants us to believe, Mourinho and Madrid are not underdogs. They have arguably even more resources than Barcelona. After all, it's not like Mourinho would be the first Real Madrid manager to beat Barcelona, would it?
José is just a great manager, one of the world's best, managing great teams all his career, but that's about it.
This is probably the most relevant point of all. Mourinho came into the scene in 2004, and curiously, it was after the emergence of this so-called "nemesis" that Barcelona entered the most successful period in their history. With a nemesis like this, who even needs friends?
In the past six seasons, Barcelona won the Champions League three times and reached two semifinals. In two of these triumphs, they beat a Mourinho-managed team en route to the title.
Mourinho hasn't been a thorn in Barcelona's golden era, but one of its many victims. He did frustrate the Catalans in 2010 with Inter, probably stealing them a fourth Champions League title in six seasons, but that's about it. He has been on the other end (the losing) on several occasions in the important competitions, and he was Real Madrid's manager in the match that will certainly turn out to be the defining match of this golden era at Barcelona, the manita.
José Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of this generation, but the myth that he has FC Barcelona's number is just that: a myth. To this day (it can change in the future), Mourinho hasn't found a formula to beat Barcelona, contrary to popular belief, as the numbers clearly show.
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