Guardiola and Di Matteo

This Wednesday, April 18th, Josep Guardiola and Roberto di Matteo will face each other as the managers of FC Barcelona and Chelsea, respectively, 12 years after the two played against each other as players while defending the Azulgrana and Blue strips. It was in the quarterfinal of the Champions League of the 1999-2000 season. On that occasion, Barça went on to the semifinals.

Magical night at the Camp Nou

The 3-1 at Stamford Bridge put Louis van Gaal’s team in a difficult situation in the return leg at the Camp Nou. It was on this night that FC Barcelona put in a magical performance as the team fired five past Chelsea in overtime to secure a spot in the semifinals. The Catalans were later eliminated by Valencia.

Rivaldo, with two goals (24’ and 99’), Figo (45’), Dani (83’) and Kluivert (104’) were Barça’s goal scorers, while Flo scored for the English side. Di Matteo, who featured in the starting line-up at the Camp Nou, could do little to stop a Barça directed by Josep Guardiola.

Puyol also played

Guardiola is not the only FC Barcelona player that played against Chelsea in 2000 that’s still with the Club. Carles Puyol was also on the pitch that night. The Barça captain, who started and later came off for Abelardo after 86 minutes, battled with Flo for most the game.

In an interview with Revista Barça in 2005, Puyol recounts “an impressive atmosphere” at the Camp Nou that night. He also talked about the days leading up to the return leg against Chelsea: “I remember the duel with Flo. Initially I wasn’t going to play that game, but Van Gaal, after a training session where I had to mark Kluivert said, ‘you can mark players that are taller than you with your powerful aerial play.’ I told him that I didn’t know if I could, but I definitely wanted to try. Two days before the match he told me that I was going to play and that I had to mark Flo.”

Di Matteo's trajectory

Roberto di Matteo took over the Chelsea bench from outgoing manager Villas-Boas in March of this year. As a footballer, Di Matteo played for three different Swiss teams at the start of his career -Schaffhausen, Zurich and Aarau- before playing for Lazio from 1993 through 1996. He arrive to Chelsea in 1996 and stays through 2002. In fact, it was with the London side that Di Matteo won most of his titles. He retired, at the age of 31 due to injury, as a Blue legend. “He’s doing a fantastic job and winning a lot of points,” said Guardiola on the current Chelsea manager.

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