Are you ready for legendary FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to return to Barcelona this year?
“Nobody plays better than Barça.”
The words sound like they might come out of the mouth of a proud Catalan, but they’re actually courtesy of Pep Guardiola–former Barça leader, current Manchester City manager, and world-famous footballer. On October 19th, Guardiola’s return to Barcelona will be on everyone’s mind as he steps back into the Camp Nou stadium his carefully-selected team. Under his leadership, Manchester City will face off against FC Barcelona for the first time this season.
Guardiola, the legendary manager whose four years at Barcelona brought them to fourteen trophies and two League Championships, will be back on familiar ground and playing against his old team. “We will play against the best,” he said when asked about the upcoming game. “Nobody plays better than Barça.”
This game is especially fraught, as it’s been a rough summer for many of Manchester’s players. As Guardiola traded away many of the big names (Yaya Tore, for one, and Joe Hart, Wilfried Bony, and Jason Denayer) in his traditional new-team cull, the team is shaping up to have a different look than it did just the year before. But Guardiola’s series of transfers are the markings of a good manager, one confident in the players he has chosen to represent the team for the rest of the season.
Guardiola knows Barcelona, after all; he was born in Santpedor, Catalonia, where he grew up playing football. When he was just thirteen years old, he joined La Masia, FC Barcelona’s youth academy. In 1990, he started playing for FC Barcelona at the age of 20, and quickly assumed a spot as a “pivot” at the center of the midfield. As part of the “Dream Team” that won the La Liga championship three times in as many years, a young Guardiola made a name for himself at Camp Nou. Later, he would go on to be the team captain, transforming FC Barcelona into a football team recognized worldwide for its elegance and power. In June 2001, Guardiola chose to leave. He had worked with FC Barcelona for seventeen years, and wanted to play in other arenas. After brief stints in Italy, Qatar, and Mexico, he retired from playing professional football in 2006.
But his time in the spotlight wasn’t over yet. In 2007, Guardiola was made the head coach of FC Barcelona B, the secondary Barca team. By the 2008 season the following year, he’d been deemed ready to head up the first team. Immediately, he traded several of the team’s players and brought in new people, including Dani Alves and Gerard Pique. That year, the team defeated Real Madrid 6-2, nabbing the La Liga title and the hearts of football fans everywhere.
Over the course of the next three years, Guardiola would lead FC Barcelona to victory again and again, racking up an incredible fourteen trophies in four years. He left in 2012, and, after a brief Sabbatical, took up the mantle over at Bayern Munich. While his first season got off to a rocky start, with FC Auchburg putting Bayern’s 53-match winning streak to an abrupt end, by 2016, Bayern did well, clinching the Audi Cup as well as 23 victories in the UEFA Champions League. Unfortunately, Bayern failed in one dramatic match–they lost both matches against FC Barcelona in May, once 3-0 and once 3-2.
This year, with Guardiola at the helm of Manchester City, he and his team are preparing to face off against the team that shaped his life for the better part of two decades. While experts are divided as to which team will come out on top, one thing is for sure: FC Barcelona and Manchester City both always put on an incredible show, and–competition aside–Pep Guardiola’s return to Barcelona is a welcome one.
The big Manchester City/FC Barcelona match will happen on October 19th at Camp Nou in Barcelona. Want to watch the showdown for yourself? Maybe we can help! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.