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Pique claims, Mourinho rivalry pushed Guardiola towards Barca exit door

According to Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique, Pep Guardiola’s departure from Barcelona was influenced by his hostile relationship with then-Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho.

In four years at Camp Nou, Guardiola won 14 trophies – including three league titles and two Champions Leagues, developing a legendary side featuring academy graduates including Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pique.

However, Guardiola’s final season saw the Catalan giants finish second to Los Blancos in LaLiga, as Mourinho’s side broke the league’s points tally record by earning 100 points in 2011-12, also scoring a yet-to-be-matched 121 league goals. The points tally was equalled by Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona in the following season.

The two coaches repeatedly clashed after the Portuguese coach arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010.

And Pique believes the rivalry “got too much”, contributing to Guardiola’s decision to leave.

Pique told Gary Neville on The Overlap:

“We were winning everything at the time, and I remember that the first time Mourinho came to Camp Nou, he lost 5-0 against us [in November 2010],”

“It was a shock of reality that these guys are going hard, but in the press conferences every time he was… you know his style, I think that it was too much for Guardiola at some point.

“It was more critical sometimes what happened off the pitch than on the rise.

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“Guardiola left. Madrid won the league that year, and suddenly, he decided to go for so many reasons.

“But I am sure part of it was because, with Mourinho, it got too much.”

After this month, Guardiola’s Manchester City team fell to a stunning 6-5 Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid.

He is tied with Mourinho as the two bosses with the most semi-final eliminations from the competition (six each).

Meanwhile, the two managers with the most wins in their first 100 Premier League games (73).

Pique claimed Mourinho’s confrontational style also affected relationships between Barcelona and Madrid players in the Spain international set-up, despite winning three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012.

“Since he arrived, he knew that they were weaker than us on the pitch,” Pique said of Mourinho’s time with Madrid. “We had a better team, and even the relationships between players [were better].

He says:

“I remember going to the national team, and after those games, it was tough because Mourinho goes to the player’s mind.

“These guys hate you. Then you believe that.

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“I was in the national team’s dressing room and said to [Madrid goalkeeper] Iker Casillas, ‘Hey Iker’.

“And the guy did not talk to me. And I did not know it at that time, but it was the coach.

“He knows how to go into the mind.”

Asked whether Guardiola enjoyed the rivalry with Mourinho, Pique added:

“I don’t think so. I remember the semi-final of the Champions League in the Bernabeu [in 2011].

“He gave a fantastic press conference, but it was not about football.

“He enjoys talking about what is happening on the pitch.

“And here there was a moment where the press focused on what was happening outside the pitch.”

Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.

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