Dani Alves insists Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is “a genius” and knows what is going to happen in a match before it starts.
Alves spent four years with Guardiola at Barcelona, winning the Champions League twice, as well as three La Liga titles before the Spaniard left in 2012.
Alves, now at Juventus having left Barcelona last summer, wrote in The Players’ Tribune how Guardiola’s pre-match talks make the players feel like they are “already winning” when they go on the pitch.
“He is a genius. I’ll say it again: a genius. Pep would tell you exactly how everything was going to happen in a match before it even happened.
“For example, the game against Real Madrid in 2010, when we won 5-0. Pep told us before the match, ‘Today, you’re going to play like the football is a ball of fire. It never stays at your feet. Not even a half second. If you do that, there will be no time for them to pressure us. We will win easily.’
“The sensation when we left every one of his pre-match talks was like we were already up 3-0. We were so empowered, so prepared, that it felt like we were already winning.”
Alves, whose Juventus side face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday in Cardiff, insists he still has Barcelona deep in his heart.
He also gave an insight into his former manager’s man-management tactics.
“The funniest thing was if we came in at half-time and the game wasn’t going well. Pep would sit down and rub his forehead. You know how he rubs his head? You’ve seen it, right? Like he’s massaging his brain, searching for the genius to come to him.”He would do this right in front of us in the dressing room. Then, like magic, it would come to him. Bang! ‘We will do this, this and this, and then this is how we will score.’ Then he would jump up and start barking out instructions, drawing maths and figures on the board.
“So we would go out, and we would do this, this and this. And that’s how we would score. It was crazy. Pep was the first coach in my life who showed me how to play without the ball. And he wouldn’t just demand that his players change their game, he would sit us down and show us why he wanted us to change with statistics and video.
“Those Barca teams were pretty much unbeatable. We played by memory. We already knew what we were going to do. We didn’t have to think. That is why, to this day, Barca is in my heart.”