With Manchester City FC facing FC Bayern München, Manuel Pellegrini and Josep Guardiola renew an acquaintance forged in Spain which has often favoured the Catalan.
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Manuel Pellegrini and Josep Guardiola meet for the first time as Manchester City FC manager and FC Bayern München coach in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group D fixture in north-west England.
However, there is previous between the pair whose past encounters have been played out within the confines of the Spanish game – with Guardiola, as FC Barcelona boss, showing good form against the Villarreal CF, Real Madrid CF and Málaga CF sides mentored by Pellegrini.
Villarreal CF 1-2 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona 3-3 Villarreal CF
Pellegrini was beginning his fifth and last campaign in charge of the Yellow Submarine when coaching novice Guardiola was promoted to the Barça helm. Only four months into his reign, however, 'Pep' was already demonstrating that a special alliance had formed at the Catalan club who would become the first Spanish team to win a Liga, UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey treble that season.
Thierry Henry's winner in the 2-1 victory at Villarreal that December meant the Blaugrana were winter champions – "but nobody is giving us a trophy for that," Guardiola said. His Chilean counterpart would later gain a modicum of revenge, with Joseba Llorente's stoppage-time equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Camp Nou denying the eventual champions a title triumph on home turf.
FC Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid CF
Real Madrid CF 0-2 FC Barcelona
On their way to claiming the 2009 championship, Barcelona had humiliated Madrid with a 6-2 win at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Merengues promptly charged Pellegrini with orchestrating a side to challenge world football's new superpower. A point above their rivals in the standings prior to the season's first Clásico, Madrid's carefully crafted tactical plan choked the hosts' creative drive while producing a couple of clear openings. That was until substitute Zlatan Ibrahimović's thumping volley and Sergio Busquets' sending-off galvanised Barça who held onto their lead.
Neck and neck at the top of the table when the teams next met in April, a dominant 2-0 Azulgrana victory proved crucial to Barcelona landing a second successive title by three points. Pellegrini, meanwhile, parted company with Madrid.
FC Barcelona 4-1 Málaga CF
Málaga CF 1-3 FC Barcelona
Brought in by Málaga in November 2010, Pellegrini started to shape a side that would go on to charm football watchers in Spain and beyond. That would come later, however. A 4-1 defeat at Camp Nou in January had the South American stating there was "a big difference between Barça and the rest". His counterpart insisted his troops were "not playing tiki-taka", adding: "I don't like that expression, it makes it sound like we are disrespecting our opponents." A record 14th Liga away success for a Barcelona outfit already assured of the title on the last day of term served as a dress-rehearsal for a UEFA Champions League final triumph over Manchester United FC.
Málaga CF 1-4 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona 4-1 Málaga CF
His team trailing eventual title winners Madrid – now under the tutelage of José Mourinho – Guardiola's Barcelona overcame Málaga thanks in large part to a Lionel Messi hat-trick. "I couldn't understand how, without doing all that much, Barcelona were 3-0 up after 50 minutes," a frustrated Pellegrini said afterwards. "Messi's whole life is a football pitch," observed Guardiola, who saw the Argentina ace register another treble in the return fixture against a Málaga ensemble that finished fourth.
With Guardiola's departure from Barça long-since announced, Pellegrini paid tribute to his rival after their last Liga meeting. "His behaviour in the world of football has been incredible – not only because of the titles won, but also for the way he has conducted himself."