One Pep ahead

Begiristain talks Pep, Jose and how Real can win the Clasico

Last Updated: 19/04/12 10:56am

Txiki Begiristain told Revista that Pep Guardiola's innate knowledge of Barcelona makes him the perfect man to lead the Spanish giants.

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"Pep came from the grass roots, so it was easier for him to understand the system and philosophy we needed to win games."

Txiki Begiristain

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Catalonia native Guardiola was a pivotal figure in Barca's midfield between 1990 -2001 and has enjoyed tremendous success since stepping up from B team boss to first-team coach in 2008.

The 41-year-old has guided his charges to 13 major honours, including three consecutive La Liga crowns, two Champions League titles and a couple of Club World Cups.

Barca's former director of football, Begiristain, admits that current Real Madrid chief Jose Mourinho, who will lock horns with Guardiola in Saturday's El Clasico, was considered for the Camp Nou hot-seat four years ago.

But says the Portuguese lost out due to Guardiola's familiarity with the club's footballing culture and his rapport with the often cut-throat Barcelona press.

Begiristain said: "Pep was a very good player for us. He came from the grass roots, so it was easier for him to understand the system and philosophy we needed to win games.

"We decided he could be a good coach for a big team and after one year we could see how he managed the team, with style and improving on the system we imposed under (predecessor) Frank Rijkaard.

Advantage

"He knew Barcelona perfectly and had a relationship with the media, so he had a little bit of an advantage over Jose Mourinho."

Mourinho's Real Madrid outfit head into the Camp Nou Clasico top of La Liga and four points clear of their illustrious rivals Barcelona.

Begiristain admits that Los Blancos have the players in their ranks to hurt his former side, but says the men from the Spanish capital will have to catch their hosts on the break in order to win the match and consolidate their grip on this term's title.

"The only way they (Real) can approach the game, and win it, is to play on the counter attack," said the ex-Barcelona winger.

And on Mourinho's selection dilemmas, Begiristain added: "Real have better players now with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria coming back fit, and Karim Benzema, but Mourinho has to decide which midfielders to put in.

"Does he play defensive ones like Lassana Diarra, Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso, or the likes of Mesut Ozil and Kaka? It is a big decision for Mourinho."