Pep Guardiola – The Magician

Josep Guardiola, popularly known as Pep Guardiola, is arguably the best manager in the world. It seems like winning trophies is second nature to him, no matter which team he joins. His teams are known to play in a very distinct manner which comprises of mainly three aspects.

  1. Passing the ball quickly and accurately.
  2. Recognizing and creating space on the pitch
  3. Getting the ball back from the opposition as soon as possible.

But before he made it big in his managerial career, Pep Guardiola was a defensive midfielder at Barcelona. He was identified and brought into the first team by Johan Cryuff, and it is Cryuff who inspires Pep’s way of looking at football. Pep did well in his playing career as he captained Barcelona as well as the Spanish national side. He was known for his exquisite tactical awareness and his hardworking nature at the heart of the midfield.

Post Retirement

Post retirement,, Pep had made his mind up to try his hand at a management. He earned his coaching badges at Barcelona and was soon manager of the Barcelona-B side. His side played a brand of attacking football which ultimately gave Pep the call-up to manage Barcelona. After Frank Rijkaard was sacked at the end of 2007-08 season, Pep was appointed as the manager. The first thing he did as manager was a sign of things to come. He shipped out legends like Deco, Ronaldinho to promote the likes of Messi, Pedro and Busquets. Pep introduced a new system at Barcelona which consisted of quick crisp short passing, the formation of triangles on the pitch and exploitation of space. This system was known to the world as Tiki – Taka!

 

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The System under Guardiola

 

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Guardiola used a 4-3-3 formation with inverted wingers which created an overload in the centre of the pitch as well as space for the full-backs to run into. With Messi, Xavi and Iniesta at his disposal, Pep knew he had a great team and one he could imprint his vision of football on. Pep used Messi as a false nine, which helped Barcelona stamp their authority in world football. Messi started as a centre-forward but as the game progressed he dropped down to the midfield, to create overloads in the midfield.

The wingers he used were good finishers and scored goals, as they were used to come inside and play as inverted wingers. Inverted wingers also meant that there was space left on the wings, this enabled the full-backs to play further up the pitch and influence the build-up. This is what Pep’s Barcelona looked like when they had possession of the ball.

Pep always used the phrase “get the ball, pass the ball” which basically summed up the way he wanted his team to play. Pep also emphasized on making triangles on the pitch, so that whenever a Barcelona player had the ball, he had more than one passing option.

Formation_Barca

Pep’s Obsessed with Possession

But all of this was only possible when Barcelona had a major possession of the ball, which Pep made sure they had. Pep drilled his Barcelona side in such a way they kept the ball very well and whenever they lost it, they would win it as soon as possible. Guardiola used the “6-second rule” which meant that his Barcelona team was equipped to win back the ball within 6 seconds of losing it by high-intensity pressing.

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To make his players capable enough to play such a high-intensity game, Pep introduced the “rondo” in the Barcelona camp, which consisted of only one-touch passing in a very tight area.

Individual and Collective Laurels under Guardiola

Trophies_Barca

Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona became the best team in the world, who played the best brand of football. His style of football made Guardiola the best manager in the world and Messi the best player in the world. In his first season itself, Guardiola was the architect of Barcelona winning the treble, becoming the first Spanish club to do so.

Pep also became the youngest manager to win the Champions League. Pep Guardiola finished 2009 with a record 6 trophies becoming the first manager in history to reach the feat. This included La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. In his four years at the helm, Pep won a total of 14 trophies, including 3 consecutive La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues, making him the most successful manager in the club’s history.

At the end of the 2011-12 season, after managing Barcelona for four seasons, Pep called it a day. He resigned as the coach of Football Club Barcelona and went into a sabbatical, before joining Bayern Munich in 2013.

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