While focusing on Spain’s bid to retain the Euro title, Xavi has also been talking to the media quite a lot about Barcelona and Real Madrid. After calling out the La Liga champions as sore losers, Xavi went on to tackle the Jose Mourinho subject and how he’s not that impressed with the Portuguese head coach.
The Spanish national team, the World Cup champions and the European champions should finish first in the Euro 2012 group, consisting of Italy, Ireland and Croatia. Maybe that’s why Xavi has been feeling the urge and the confidence to talk about other things, ‘local’ things, that seem to be mostly off-season and pre-season hype, very very early on, regarding the Barcelona – Real Madrid rivalry.
This time, after giving his opinion on the manner of Real Madrid players having problems to act respectfully after defeat, especially when compared with Barcelona players, Xavi went on to take jabs at the ‘special one’, shortly after Mourinho won a league title with Real Madrid, the fourth league in which he has been crowned as champion.
Mourinho is also one of only three head coaches, the others being Ernst Happel (Feyenoord and Hamburg) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (Dortmund and Bayern), to win a Champions League/European Cup with two different clubs. He’s one of four managers, along with Happel, Tomislav Ivić and Giovanni Trappatoni, to win a league title in four different nations.
But Xavi, as you might have assumed, is a Guardiola man - Mourinho will not go down in football history. For me, Guardiola is the best and has been the best during the four years he spent in charge. He has revolutionised football. Chelsea won the Champions League this year and yet Barca remain the benchmark for world football.
According to Xavi, success isn’t what puts managers in the pantheon, in the hall of fame of minds and memories of fans. It’s the style, not the pragmatism. It’s being revolutionary and innovative. Out there to win with class and ‘beautiful’ play, not simply win.
Maybe he’s got it right, but it probably depends on which side of the fence you sit on. I find it hard to believe Jose Mourinho won’t go down in history as one of the greatest, or at least memorable managers in the history of European football. Remember, he’s only 49. There’s plenty of time to make more history, and controversy.
Xavi is also pretty convinced there’s no one close to Lionel Messi at the moment. He didn’t mention Cristiano Ronaldo, but it’s obvious who he was referring to when talking about Messi and the Ballon d’Or - He’s the best player I’ve seen in my life. t would be an injustice if any other player won the Ballon d’Or, because no other player is at his level. Messi has helped me to become a better player.
My guess is that if Cristiano Ronaldo takes Portugal to the Semi Finals, the award is his. If Portugal fails to qualify from the group stage or simply perform in a disappointing manner, like in the World Cup, Messi has the edge for his fourth consecutive player of the year award.