The enmity between Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini and Roma coach Jose Mourinho has subsided recently, but their Europa League matchup on Thursday night poses a possible threat.
The Italian team is struggling to remain competitive, while Betis, who have been dominant this year, may potentially seal qualification with a victory at Seville’s Benito Villamarin Stadium.
In 2010, Mourinho was hired as Real Madrid’s head coach after president Florentino Perez controversially fired Pellegrini after he achieved a then-club record 96 points in La Liga. Simply put, it wasn’t good enough to defeat Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, who came in at 99.
“If Madrid get rid of me I won’t be going to coach Malaga, I’ll be at a top level side in Italy or England,” scorned Mourinho, when asked what he would do if ousted by Perez.
Pellegrini’s new home in Malaga helped the team achieve a new club record of 58 points and finish in fourth position. The following year, they advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, where Borussia Dortmund defeated them in a thrilling match.
On the field, Madrid often defeated Pellegrini’s Malaga, including by a score of 7-0, and Mourinho won La Liga in 2012, something his opponent failed to do.
The Portuguese, returning to Chelsea after a successful tenure at Inter Milan, and the Chilean, in command of Manchester City, engaged in another Premier League brawl.
After Chelsea defeated City 2-1 in 2014, Pellegrini declined to shake Mourinho’s hand, but he ended up having the final laugh as City won the title.