This piece comes to you from The Pride of London contributor Muneeb Khan, follow him on Twitter @MUK734
After reigniting his dispute with Arsene Wenger last week, Jose Mourinho has re-started another feud with an old nemesis – FC Barcelona. Despite not coaching in La Liga anymore and moving back to England, Mourinho could not resist having a few choice words for Catalan club before the first leg of the Barcelona-Manchester City tie.
Mourinho on Barcelona:
“Of course, by history, Barcelona is the favorite, but this Barcelona, this season is showing that it is not the same in previous years. Of course, they have Messi, he is special, and they have more than him. But I think this is the worst Barcelona of many, many years – so City have a chance.”
He was most likely referring to Barcelona not being as offensively explosive as in previous seasons and the problems occurring off the field such as Club President Sandro Russell resigning due to revelations of Neymar’s transfer to club in the summer. When Messi was injured earlier in the season, the club was criticized for overplaying him. In addition, he was upset by a boardmember’s suggestion that he was paid enough and Messi replied that the board-member didn’t know how to run a football club.
Despite the issues off the field and the perception that Barcelona are not as good as in previous years, they are still involved in all the competitions to win (La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey). Their defensive record is much better this year as Carlos Puyol and Xavi have been rested more often. Neymar has been slowly integrated into the club with 12 goals in 28 appearances. In addition, two of the more recent signings, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, who were thought to be flops are playing well under new manager Gerardo Martino.
In an ITV interview after Barca’s 2-0 win at the Etihad, Febregas took a thinly veiled shot at Mourinho saying the critics would have to “shut up for a few days now”. If Barcelona and Chelsea were to meet in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it would set-up a fascinating story line with more plot points than one can count ranging from controversial refereeing to an eye-poke in the post-match tunnel.
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