Jose Mourinho is famed for his attention to detail on opposition players – and that is highlighted in a leaked scouting report compiled by the manager alongside Andre Villas Boas ahead of Chelsea‘s clash with Barcelona in 2006.
Mourinho is often criticised for concentrating too much on the threat of the opposition rather than the strength on his own team but that approach has been rewarded with a host of honours throughout his career.
And one of the Portuguese’s scouting reports ahead of a Champions League clash with Barcelona, which Chelsea lost 3-2 on aggregate, was recently tweeted out by the account Performance Analysis in Action. Here are some of the best bits…
Mourinho was left fuming the previous season as Didier Drogba was controversially sent off in the Nou Camp after a relatively innocuous clash with Victor Valdes, and the Chelsea coaching staff were keen to warn their players of Barcelona’s taste for simulation.
As the report notes, Barca “will constantly simulate free-kicks and penalties”, while Rafael Marquez “fakes contact like no other” and Ronaldinho is a “constant cheater”.
And the manager was left frustrated once again after a 2-1 first-leg defeat at Stamford Bridge in which Asier Del Horno was sent off for a challenge on Lionel Messi, with Mourinho accusing the Argentine of “acting” and “cheating”.
It should possibly be pointed out that Del Horno had earlier escaped punishment for this…
Such is the detail the report goes in to, Barcelona’s favoured passing options when bringing the ball out from defence are listed.
“Will use their typical combination to exit: 1) Deco short. 2) Gio (Van Bronckhorst) wide. 3) Ball from Deco to Gio who frees Ronaldinho inside or 4) Ball back to Edmilson to organize.”
While Barca are famed for their possession-based approach, this was not yet Pep Guardiola’s late-2000s vintage.
The report states: “From last year have improved in the aggressiveness of their offensive transition but on the other hand are much weaker in that characteristical possession game and are much more dependable on the creativity of Messi and Ronaldinho.”
Two players in particular are highlighted as a potential weakness when on the ball in Oleguer and Edmilson, although Chelsea’s players are given different instructions on how to pressurise the duo.
With Edmilson they are told to “let him receive the ball first and then surprise him with pressure”, whereas with Oleguer it is “important to reduce the space as the ball is travelling to force him to a mistake”.
In some corners, tactical fouls are viewed as a footballing sin, but the Blues coaching staff were eager to highlight when and where they would be effective against Barcelona.
One section on Lionel Messi ends with the simple message: “Fouls!” And it is later added: “If option is to foul him, is important to do it outside the box and as early as possible as recovered from an injury recently.”
And when Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s overlapping runs beyond Ronaldinho are mentioned, the report recommends: “This momentum can be stopped by fouls.”
Full Jose Mourinho Scouting Report on FC Barcelona from 2005/2006. Amazing the amount of detail that Mourinho and Andre Villas Boas would go into to prepare for the next opponent..Enjoy it's not everyday that this information is shared with the public! #DetailsMakeTheDifference pic.twitter.com/JAGO0sRDx6
— AnalysisLab (@AnalysisLab1) March 16, 2019
Another potential weakness identified came in Barcelona’s use of the offside trap.
The report is pretty damning on the Catalan side’s defenders – more on that below – and it is suggested: “Full-backs defend open in relation to the line of central defenders and still their use of offside can be completely mistimed by Puyol and the others.”
A section titled Individual Appreciation is anything but appreciative of many of the Barcelona players, with each member of the squad likely to play having their strengths and weaknesses assessed one by one. Some of the highlights include:
– Oleguer: “Defensively poor, has no pace, and chooses his timings of tackles poorly.”
– Sylvinho: “Doesn’t know how to defend.”
– Carles Puyol: “Aggressive but very emotional. Gets crazy with the referee in fouls against him and goes mad in provocations…bad positional sense (comes to midfield with striker) and bad leadership of defence (wants to do offside when it’s not possible).”