One of the greatest managers in the history of the sport, Jose Mourinho has managed some of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
He also managed two of the best teams we’ve seen, during two separate eras and for two different reasons.
When Mourinho joined Chelsea as ‘The Special One’, he built one of the greatest defensive teams ever seen. During the 2004/05 season, the Blues conceded just 15 goals in the entire Premier League campaign as they strolled to a first title in 50 years before making it consecutive titles the following season too.
After leaving Chelsea and winning a treble with Inter Milan, Mourinho ended up at the Bernabeu as the manager of Real Madrid. There he would lock horns against Pep Guardiola and arguably the greatest club side ever in Barcelona and eventually break their stranglehold on the La Liga title.
His Madrid side were a goalscoring demon, scoring a record 121 goals during the league campaign as they recorded 100 points to win the title for the first time since 2008.
But who would win if the two sides met each other? Lets break it down.
Mourinho always loved building his teams from the back and that usually starts with the goalkeeper.
At Chelsea, he made the decision early on to replace long-time number one Carlo Cudicini with young Petr Cech. The signing from Rennes was completed before Jose arrived, but it was the Portuguese manager’s choice to put him in and keep him as the first choice. He won the Golden Glove award for keeping a record 21 clean sheets in his first season and conceded just 37 goals in two seasons combined, including a record low of 15 in the first.
For Real Madrid, the decision was much simpler. Club legend Iker Casillas was the number one pick at the club since he was a teenager and was still near the top of his game when Mourinho came in and he kept that position until Jose’s final season.
In defence, Mourinho’s Chelsea back four is legendary among Premier League circles. Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho followed him from Porto and went straight into the side, while John Terry was already captain. William Gallas was a centre-back by nature, but filled in at left-back for Mourinho in place of Wayne Bridge as Mourinho opted for more physicality.
At Madrid, the defence selected itself. Alvaro Arbeloa had joined from Liverpool before Mourinho was hired, but he was the first choice right-back when they won the league because of a long-term injury to Mourinho’s trusted enforcer Carvalho who was also now at Madrid. This meant Sergio Ramos moved to centre-back alongside Pepe while Marcelo was still the first choice left-back ahead of Fabio Coentrao.
In midfield, Mourinho has almost always opted for physicality over intricacy and those patterns continue in these two sides.
At Chelsea, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele were guaranteed starters in the first campaign while Michael Essien joined in the second season from Lyon. He replaced another Portuguese player in the side, as Tiago dropped out to accommodate the Ghanaian’s inclusion. He offered mobility, power, great passing and tenacity as well as an added goal threat for Mourinho, who looked to get even more from Frank Lampard.
Madrid’s midfield was more creative than Chelsea’s but still physical enough to withstand the battles it needed to get into. Xabi Alonso was the dictator from deep who was also able to break up play and defend, while Sami Khedira was the box-to-box option who marauded around the pitch chasing the ball to win it back but also to add extra threat in the opposition box on occasion.
The big difference was between Ozil and Lampard, with the German in the team to create while the England man was in the side to finish moves off. He finished as Chelsea’s top goalscorer in both of Mourinho’s first two seasons in England, scoring 19 and 20 goals respectively, while Ozil created 28 goals on his own in all competitions in 2011/12.
In attack, Chelsea were consistently clinical. Didier Drogba established himself as Mourinho’s first-choice centre forward, with the Ivory Coast international a physical presence with excellent link up play. He scored 30 goals in the two seasons combined under Jose, but it was ability to link with the wide men that made him invaluable.
In the first campaign Arjen Robben and Damien Duff played on opposite wings and terrorised defences, although the Dutchman was ravaged by injury problems during his time in London. In the second campaign, Robben continued at a similar rate but Joe Cole stepped up and essentially took over from Duff as his partner on the other side. Together they had pace, skill, a fantastic passing range and an eye for goal that carried Mourinho’s side to back-to-back championships.
In Madrid, the attack was much stronger in depth. Players like former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain were restricted to roles as a substitute mainly because of the form of Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo.
Di Maria scored seven goals and assisted 17, while Benzema scored 32 and assisted 19 during the campaign. Those numbers paled in comparison to Ronaldo though, who scored an incredible 60 goals to go with 15 assists in all competitions as Mourinho was able to topple Guardiola and Messi at the top of La Liga.
It would be a true contest of attack against defence if the two sides met and it is harder and harder to look past Real Madrid as the winners of any potential contest.
The quality of the attack is arguably the best we’ve seen in recent years barring Barcelona’s incredible ‘MSN’ trio and as good as Chelsea’s defence was, they never really came under significant threat in the Premier League. They never quite dominated in Europe, reaching a semi-final and then the last 16 so Madrid would obviously fancy their chances.
Defensively Madrid weren’t awful themselves, conceding only 32 goals in their league campaign and they also reached the Champions League semi-finals.
It would be a fantastic game, where we’d see the best of Mourinho’s two philosophies of football. ‘Park the bus’ vs ‘give it to Ronaldo’. Ronaldo wins for me.