It's been close to year now since Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho started his attempt to provoke a reaction from his calm and composed Barcelona counterpart Pep Guardiola. On the eve of the Champions League first leg between the two sides, it seems like Mourinho has got what he wants.
In his pre-match press conference, Guardiola hit back at Mourinho's comments on Pep's response to a refereeing decision, in a foul-mouthed rant. On Tueday, Mourinho said Guardiola had created a new category of coach by complaining about correct decisions, in relation to Guardiola's response to an officials' decision to overrule Pedro's effort during the Copa Del Rey final, in which Barca lost 1-0 to Madrid in extra time.
A new era has begun, Mourinho had said on Tuesday. Until now there were two groups of coaches. One very, very small group of coaches that don't speak about refs and then a big group of coaches, of which I am part, who criticise the refs when they have mistakes - people like me who don't control their frustration but also people who are happy to value a great job from a ref.
Now there is a third group, which is only one-person, that criticises referees when they get decisions right! There is a new meaning to (football) now. In his first season (Guardiola) lived the scandal of Stamford Bridge (in the semi-final), last year he played against a 10-man Inter. Now he is not happy with refs getting it right. I am not asking the referee to help my team. If the referee is good everyone will be happy - except Guardiola. He wants them to get it wrong.
Later in the day, Guardiola shed his usual self, in the press room at the Santiago Bernabeu, composed manner and responded, using expletives.
Tomorrow at 8.45, we will meet each other on the pitch, Guardiola said. Off the pitch he has already won. In this room (Bernabeu press room), he's the f*****g chief, the f*****g man, the person who knows everything about the world and I don't want to compete with him at all. It's a type of game I'm not going to play because I don't know how. If Barcelona want someone who competes with that, then they should look for another manager. But we, as a person and an institution, don't do that. I could talk about (Olegario) Bequerença (the referee from last season's Barcelona-Inter semi-final first leg), about the offside goal from Diego Milito or the penalty of (Dani) Alves, but I don't. Well, until tonight!
If you think after three years, that I always moan, always make excuses and always complain, then there is nothing I can do about that.
I won't justify my words. I congratulated Madrid for the cup that they won deservedly on the pitch and against a team that I represent and of which I feel very proud. Off the pitch, he has already won, as he has done all year. On the pitch, we'll see what happens.
He went on, If you think that his allegation that I always complain about the referees is true after you've all heard from me over the last three years, well, there's nothing I can do. Off the pitch, there's nothing we can do to fight that.
However, when asked if his reaction could motivate the players, Guardiola said, Do you think the players will run more because I've spoken to Jose through the cameras? It's the Champions League semi-finals, he said. The players won't be motivated by this - they know what I think about everything associated with this game.