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Van Gaal and Mourinho, the master tacticians

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Van Gaal and Mourinho, the master tacticians

Postby FCBayernNews » Fri May 21, 2010 7:30 pm

"See you in Madrid," Bayern boss Louis van Gaal texted his Internazionale counterpart José Mourinho, even before their respective teams had made it to the Champions League final. As it turned out, the appointment will be kept. "He's a good friend from the world of football. And you don't have many friends in the world of football," said van Gaal, referring to his former assistant at Barcelona.

Inter's Portuguese supremo, not otherwise known as a soft-hearted representative of his trade, responded with an unusually warm thought. "We'll embrace before and after the match - I'm absolutely confident of that," the 47-year-old Mourinho remarked.

Clash of tacticians

Despite their friendship, the pair will spend the whole of Saturday evening's game trying to outwit and outmanoeuvre the other. "He's a cunning tactician, just like our coach. They'll be thinking about how to catch the other by surprise," mused Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. More than any other Champions League final of recent years, the Madrid showdown is a battle between master strategists. Both have formed and led to the final teams which rated as unfancied before the start of the season.

There are in any case plenty of links between Van Gaal and Mourinho, as both adhere to strict plans and unbending philosophies. They are sticklers for organisation and discipline, and focus meticulously on the details, so that every player knows exactly what he has to do at all times. Addressing a news conference, Rummenigge inadvertently referred to "Louis Mourinho", but the mistake was loaded with apt symbolism.

Robben's praise for both bosses

Both also boast unshakeable confidence away from the field of play. Some are put off, but the players tend to be appreciative. "They're both great coaches," said Arjen Robben, who featured for Mourinho with Chelsea and now for Bayern under Gaal. Both are also masters of stealing the limelight and media attention in order to relieve the pressure on their players.

However, their tactical preferences are miles apart. "My goal is to entertain the crowd and win. He only plays to win," offered van Gaal. Saturday's match could well be a game of "defence versus attack," Robben agreed. "Van Gaal likes to control the play, but Mourinho concentrates on organisation in defence."

Teacher and boss

Van Gaal's arrival at Barcelona in 1997 threatened to push Mourinho to the sidelines, but the Portuguese hopeful resisted a demotion and earned his new chief's respect. "Louis was my teacher and boss," commented Mourinho, initially a humble interpreter at Barca. However, he used the time to learn from Van Gaal and began his ascent in the coaching world.

"He was very important for my development," continued Mourinho, recalling an incident which speaks volumes about the pair's personalities: "I asked him if I should go to Benfica as assistant coach. No, he said. Tell them you'll go to Benfica, if they need a head coach. If they need an assistant, stay here."

History in the making

One of the two will make history at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night, becoming only the third coach after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld to win the most prestigious trophy in European football with two different clubs. Van Gaal won the prize in 1995 with Ajax, and Mourinho in 2004 with Porto.
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