Pep Guardiola faces a return to former club Barcelona from his current club Bayern Munich, after the two clubs were drawn against each other in the European Champions League semifinal.
Guardiola spent successful years for Barcelona, winning plenty of honors: he won six league titles and the European Cup in 1992, added three more league titles and two Champions League crowns.
Phill Ball, a writer and football enthusiast, wrote in Morbo:
“In his first week at the club, Johan Cruyff turned up unannounced at the ‘Mini’ stadium, a venue just down the road from Camp Nou used by the youth and B teams. Just before half-time he wandered into the dug-out and asked Charly Rexach, the youth team manager at the time, the name of the young lad playing on the right side of midfield.
‘Guardiola – good lad’ came the reply. Cruyff ignored the comment and told Rexach to move him into the middle for the second half, to play as pivot. It was a difficult position to adapt to and one not used by many teams in Spain at the time. Guardiola adjusted immediately, as Cruyff had suspected he would, and when he moved up into the first-team in 1990 he became the pivot of the Dream Team.”
Basing his team around the talents of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Messi, Guardiola created the best team in the history of football.
“Everyone understands how special this game is for me, for [midfielder] Thiago and my staff. Barcelona was our life. Barcelona is my home. Barcelona are the best team at the moment. I am not surprised. He (Luis Enrique) has a lot of quality. He is a great guy and I am happy I will be facing him.”
In 2013 Guardiola returned to management with Bayern and guided the club to the German league and cup double last season.
Bayern are once again on course for the domestic double, however, Guardiola has said that he must add the Champions League if the season is to be considered a success.
The draw creates the possibility of a Barcelona vs Real Madrid European Cup final, something which has never happened before. The arch-rivals are also battling it out for the Spanish league title this season.
Guardiola should try to stop Lionel Messi, who has struck 46 goals in all competitions this term and helped fire Barcelona to the top of the Spanish La Liga table.
This season’s final will be played at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday, June 6.
The Europa League draw creates the possibility of an all-Serie A final. There have been four all-Italian Uefa Cup finals, though none since the tournament was rebranded in 2009. The first legs of the semi-finals will be played on Thursday, May 7 with the return matches a week later. The final will take place in Warsaw’s National Stadium on Wednesday, May 27