Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has had a big influence on him as a coach as he relishes the new chapter of their rivalry.
At first, there was not much rivalry between the two tacticians.
Tuchel was still in charge of Mainz, a traditionally mid-table club in Bundesliga, when Guardiola first arrived at Bayern Munich in 2013.
But then Tuchel was appointed as the Borussia Dortmund boss ahead of the 2015/16 season.
Bayern won the title, unsurprisingly, but Dortmund still came second after their seventh-place finish the season before Tuchel’s arrival.
In his interview just over a month ago, Guardiola said his Bayern’s team “fought a lot” to beat “outstanding” Tuchel’s Dortmund side to the Bundesliga crown (via MEN).
Unfortunately, the rivalry ended just after one season following Guardiola’s departure to Man City at the end of the season.
Now as a Chelsea manager, Tuchel has opened up about his admiration for Guardiola.
The German said he was inspired by a lot of teams; Louis van Gaal’s Ajax, Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal — but Guardiola’s Barcelona, as he described, was an “eye-opener” to young Tuchel.
“[Pep’s Barcelona team] taught me everything about this game, that you can play nice [football] and you can win everything,” Tuchel told Chelsea TV (via 5th stand app).
“[Also that] you can attack and still be intense in defending; that you can do it with the guys from the academy, and so on.
“Pep [has been] a big, big influence until today.
“I have the feeling that every time I watch a game from him, I can learn something about football and I can learn something new.
“[It is] now a big challenge to be in the same league again and to compete again at the same level.”
It is fairly unrealistic to wish for another fierce rivalry between the two this season, considering the 18-point gap between Man City and Chelsea at the moment.
But there is still a trip to Etihad in May which Tuchel will certainly be looking forward to.
Next season, when everyone starts on an equal footing, we can hopefully see the second chapter of their rivalry.