It'd be an understatement to say Pep Guardiola is having a great run at Barcelona. With the recent Spanish Super Cup won against Real Madrid, Pep Guardiola equaled Johan Cruyff's trophy tally as a Barcelona manager (11). The difference is that Cruyff managed Barcelona from 1988 to 1996, while Pep Guardiola is only now starting his fourth year on the job and it seems almost a given that he will win a lot more trophies.
While Cruyff's contribution to the club goes way beyond the trophies, the excellence of Pep Guardiola's work can't be denied. With him at the helm, this Barcelona crop became one of the finest club sides of all time and swept every trophy in their path. Pep Guardiola has established himself as one of the world's best managers.
The only thing standing between Pep and the all-time record of titles at Barcelona, is FC Porto. The Portuguese giants won the Europa League last season, thus earning the right to face FC Barcelona in next Friday's European Super Cup.
Porto have lost their manager André Villas-Boas and their star striker Radamel Falcao (for a whopping $40 million), but that doesn't mean this Super Cup will be easy for FC Barcelona. Porto remain an excellent side, surely one of the best in Europe, and will pose a much bigger threat than Shakhtar Donetsk back in 2009.
Last season, under Villas-Boas, Porto won the Portuguese league undefeated (27 wins and three draws) and new manager Victor Pereira (Villas-Boas' former assistant) has picked up where his predecessor left off, winning the first two league games. Porto have a very solid squad of top quality internationals led by Hulk, a player who can definitely hurt Barcelona on the break.
But regardless of Porto's quality, it's very hard to see past a Barcelona win. That's the thing about Pep Guardiola's juggernaut, it's just very hard to see them lose. The winning mentality that Pep brought to the club is just fantastic; you expect Barcelona to win every match they're in.
In the Spanish Super Cup, Real Madrid were better prepared and were the better team during the tie, but Barcelona still got the win in the end. There's a certain aura of invincibility around this Barcelona side. They're certainly not unbeatable, but are closer than any team in modern football history. Most teams that face Barcelona look defeated even before a ball is kicked.
As good a team as they are, the 2004 Champions League winners are clearly the underdogs on this one. The stage is set for Pep Guardiola to write another chapter in his already fabulous managerial career and overtake Johan Cruyff as far as trophies are concerned. Next Friday might very well be the day where the apprentice surpasses his master.
Having won nine league (out of 21) and three Champions Leagues (out of four) at Barcelona both as a player and a manager, Pep Guardiola is undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) legendary men in the club's history. And his legend isn't even over yet, he's still adding to it every day.
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