He’s one of the great tactical minds of his football generation, but Pep Guardiola still knows he has a great job of preparation to stop Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday’s Manchester derby.
Asked Wednesday night about how he planned the Old Trafford showdown, the Manchester City manager said: “They have one of the best players ever, a guy who can be a scoring machine.”
But Guardiola has been in this position many times before, with Ronaldo and the Spanish coach on opposite sides of the fence for the past 13 years.
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) will rekindle their battle on Saturday
Manchester City manager Guardiola is plotting to find a way to stop the return of United star Ronaldo
The Portuguese forward was Guardiola’s main man to stop when the iconic coach was in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, a rivalry that Guardiola dominated a lot during his early days.
THE RECORD OF RONALDO VS GUARDIOLA
Ronaldo Goals: 7
Final wins: 1
Final losses: 1
In fact, it was total domination in the early years. Guardiola prevented Ronaldo, or any of his teammates at Manchester United or Real Madrid, from scoring in their first four games.
Their first meeting came in the 2009 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United, which ended up being Ronaldo’s last game in his first season at Old Trafford.
Dressed in the Portuguese forward’s last hurray at United, it was Lionel Messi who shone in the 2-0 win and Guardiola’s Catalans scored an iconic treble. Ronaldo, as expected, jumped to Real Madrid in an attempt to fight Guardiola’s dominance over Spanish soccer.
A battle that Ronaldo kept fighting at first. Guardiola’s Barcelona beat Real Madrid in the El Clásico in the next three games. Ronaldo could only look on in disappointment when the Catalans won 1-0, 2-0 and then 5-0 between 2009 and 2010.
But in 2011, the year Barcelona and Real Madrid met five times, Ronaldo began to level the rivalry. His first goal in the Clásico came in a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabéu on April 16, when Ronaldo scored the winning goal in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona four days later, the forward’s first strike. Portuguese about Pep.
Guardiola (left) and Lionel Messi (right) dominated their first ties with Ronaldo’s Real Madrid
Ronaldo avenged the defeat in the 2009 Champions League final with a victory in the 2011 Copa del Rey
The pair then met in the Champions League semi-finals later that season and Guardiola returned with two more shutouts from Ronaldo, with Messi underlying his dominance over the Portugal winger with two wonderful goals at the Bernabéu stage.
The 2011/12 season was Guardiola’s last campaign at the Camp Nou and ended up being the pinnacle of his rivalry with Ronaldo. The Real Madrid winger managed to beat Barça’s three times in six games, including a 2-1 LaLiga win against Barcelona, but Pep’s men defeated Los Blancos in the Super Cup and the King’s Cup.
Overall in Spain, Guardiola won most of the match, but Ronaldo made things difficult for the Spaniard by finding a way to goal.
Perhaps that is why, when the couple reunited for the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony, Guardiola declined a handshake from Ronaldo, who seemed puzzled after the little altercation.
Ronaldo (left) was a constant thorn in Pep’s Barça (right) with seven goals in 13 Classics
Or perhaps Guardiola foresaw his darkest day against Ronaldo approaching. The Spaniard led Bayern Munich to the semi-finals of the Champions League during his first season there in the 2013-14 campaign, where he was paired with Real Madrid.
Bayern had beaten Portuguese Benfica in the quarter-finals, with Guardiola goading on Ronaldo ahead of the semi-final clash by claiming that the Real Madrid man was desperate for the German giants to lose their last eight meetings.
‘I know Cristiano wanted Benfica in the semifinal. I feel sorry for him, ” Guardiola said, but Ronaldo would be the last to laugh.
The return match at the Allianz Arena was the spectacle of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo scored two goals in the return leg to claim victory 4-0 in the second leg and 5-0 on aggregate. It was the closest Guardiola came to winning the Champions League at Bayern, but Ronaldo ruined it.
Ronaldo also scored twice in Real Madrid’s 5-0 European win over Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in 2014.
RONALDO’S RECORD AGAINST MANCHESTER CITY
Red cards: 2
Since Guardiola moved to Manchester City in 2016, his rivalry with Ronaldo has continued. Various comments about Messi as the best in the world would have annoyed Ronaldo, but Guardiola’s statement that Bernardo Silva was Portugal’s ‘biggest star’ in 2019 was his most brutal joke.
“He is already the biggest star, he already has everything,” Guardiola said. ‘He is a lovely person. He never pouts. He is the most beloved boy in the locker room.
I think this season he is one of the best players in the Premier League. It is a joy for a coach. I’m a lucky guy to have Bernardo in my hands, in every training session and in every game. Love it. Simple as that. ‘
Now Guardiola and Ronaldo are back in the same league and their rivalry may be reunited, but the Manchester City manager must be aware that the United winger has an excellent all-time record against his club.
Ronaldo won his first two Manchester derbies at United, playing a crucial role in the second by scoring a goal and an assist in the FA Cup fifth round triumph over City in 2004.
Ronaldo also has a good track record in the Manchester derbies, with seven wins in 11 games.
Ronaldo (right) also scored a late goal in his first clash with City for Real Madrid in 2012
He also scored in his most recent Manchester derby: a 2-0 win at Old Trafford in 2009 en route to the Premier League title. The United icon also scored in both meetings during the 2006-07 season, and the Red Devils also won the league that year.
Ronaldo has also hurt City while at Real Madrid, scoring a goal in the 92nd minute in the group stage of the Champions League in 2012.
There have also been negative experiences against City, notably two red cards at the Etihad Stadium in 2006 and 2008, the last for deliberate handball in a 1-0 win.
But while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United is not in the best shape right now ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby, the Red Devils have the player with solid experience in hurting Guardiola and City. Wait for fireworks.
But Ronaldo (right) has also been sent off twice against City by United, so expect fireworks.