Copa Del Rey

Copa Del Rey Slideshow

Derby day: From one-sided fixtures to tight affairs - how will Merseyside and Manchester clashes play out?

It is a fact not lost on Merseyside that a generation of young Everton fans have never seen their side win at Anfield. More than 18 years have passed since the Toffees last took three points home with them on the short trip back across Stanley Park, with David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman all trying and failing to build a side capable of breaking the Anfield curse. It now falls to Sam Allardyce to rekindle the spirit of September 1999, when an early Kevin Campbell goal, created by a young Francis Jeffers, was enough to secure victory in a typically fiery encounter. Jeffers was later sent off, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, and they were soon joined by a fresh-faced Steven Gerrard, making just his second appearance in a Merseyside derby. Everton have beaten Liverpool at Goodison Park on just four occasions since then, making their rivalry one of the most one-sided in recent history. Liverpool have dominated Everton in recent years Credit: Getty There has, however, been plenty of competition down the years for the title of football’s most unbalanced derby. In some cases, a local derby serves as an equaliser, when better teams are routinely pegged back by smaller rivals. In others, the derby atmosphere has the opposite effect, causing one side to shrink and another to thrive… One-sided derbies Everton are by no means alone in consistently struggling against their local rivals. Famously, Atletico Madrid did not beat Real Madrid, home or away, for 14 years. When they finally broke that duck, it was in the Santiago Bernabeu in the final of the Copa del Rey. “If you had made the fans an offer in which you had said we won’t win against them for 14 years but when we do, it will be in the Cup final at their stadium, with them scoring first, hitting the post three times and us winning in extra time, they would have signed up for that,” said manager Diego Simeone afterwards. Elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona have won 97 of 167 derbies with Espanyol, and have lost just three of the last 41 meetings with their local rivals. It is a similar story in west London, where Chelsea have won 46 games against neighbours Fulham, losing just 11. Although they have not always been in the same division, Chelsea have been defeated by Fulham just once, in 2006, since 1979. Chelsea have had the upper hand over Fulham Credit: Getty Images Over in Germany, Bayern Munich have dominated the Munich derby, winning 104 games against 1860 Munich and losing just 50. And on an international level, it is hard to find a more barren run of form than in the early decades of the USA’s rivalry with Mexico. After the Americans won in their first meeting, at the 1934 World Cup, Mexico went on an unbeaten run against the USA that stretched over 46 years and 26 matches until they were finally defeated in 1980. The anomalies In most of these cases, the results are an obvious consequence of the reflective sizes of the two clubs involved. It is no surprise, for example, that a club of Barcelona’s stature is so dominant over the comparably small Espanyol. But sometimes the derby serves as an equaliser, when the size of the various trophy cabinets has no impact on results. The so-called ‘smaller’ clubs can regularly claim the scalps of their ‘bigger’ rivals, or matches between sides at similar levels can become inexplicably uneven. Just look at the recent history of the ‘M23 derby’, between Crystal Palace and Brighton. Palace have had the upper hand, losing just one of the last eight games between the two. The 'M23 derby' is a fiercely-contested derby Credit: Getty And then there’s the East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City, two sides who, by and large, exist at the same echelons of English football. Norwich have not lost to Ipswich in nine matches since 2009. It is also an odd quirk that Stoke City have gone six matches without victory over Port Vale, and have won just two of the last 13 meetings between the two (that said, they have not faced each other since 2002, so those particular figures can appear misleading at first). What of Birmingham and Aston Villa? Here are two sides that played each other regularly in the Premier League in the 00s and have since faced off three times in the Championship, yet Birmingham have not won a league game between them in 11 attempts. The same applies to Sunderland and Newcastle. Both have generally operated at the lower end of the Premier League for the last five years, yet Sunderland’s record is one you would expect of a Champions League team playing a League One side: six wins in their last seven derbies, and no defeats in their last nine. Oxford United and Swindon Town have a similarly unbalanced recent record, with Oxford winning seven of the last eight meetings and going unbeaten in seven matches, in both league and cup competitions, since 2011. Too tight to call Of course, there are also those derbies that are so tightly-contested it is almost impossible to divide the two teams. For this, look no further than Nottingham Forest v Derby. Forest have won 39 times, while Derby have won 37. Burnley’s record against Blackburn Rovers is similarly tight: Burnley have won 41 while Blackburn have won 42. El Clasico is one of the tighest, high-profile rivalries Credit: AP Fulham may not have had much luck against Chelsea, but it’s a far tighter affair with fellow west Londoners QPR, who they have beaten 16 times but lost on 14 occasions. The ultimate in close derbies, though, is El Clasico. Barcelona and Real Madrid have played 172 times, with Real winning 72 and Barcelona winning 68. There’s also just seven goals between them: Real have scored 280, while Barcelona have scored 273.

Derby day: From one-sided fixtures to tight affairs - how will Merseyside and Manchester clashes play out?

It is a fact not lost on Merseyside that a generation of young Everton fans have never seen their side win at Anfield. More than 18 years have passed since the Toffees last took three points home with them on the short trip back across Stanley Park, with David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman all trying and failing to build a side capable of breaking the Anfield curse. It now falls to Sam Allardyce to rekindle the spirit of September 1999, when an early Kevin Campbell goal, created by a young Francis Jeffers, was enough to secure victory in a typically fiery encounter. Jeffers was later sent off, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, and they were soon joined by a fresh-faced Steven Gerrard, making just his second appearance in a Merseyside derby. Everton have beaten Liverpool at Goodison Park on just four occasions since then, making their rivalry one of the most one-sided in recent history. Liverpool have dominated Everton in recent years Credit: Getty There has, however, been plenty of competition down the years for the title of football’s most unbalanced derby. In some cases, a local derby serves as an equaliser, when better teams are routinely pegged back by smaller rivals. In others, the derby atmosphere has the opposite effect, causing one side to shrink and another to thrive… One-sided derbies Everton are by no means alone in consistently struggling against their local rivals. Famously, Atletico Madrid did not beat Real Madrid, home or away, for 14 years. When they finally broke that duck, it was in the Santiago Bernabeu in the final of the Copa del Rey. “If you had made the fans an offer in which you had said we won’t win against them for 14 years but when we do, it will be in the Cup final at their stadium, with them scoring first, hitting the post three times and us winning in extra time, they would have signed up for that,” said manager Diego Simeone afterwards. Elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona have won 97 of 167 derbies with Espanyol, and have lost just three of the last 41 meetings with their local rivals. It is a similar story in west London, where Chelsea have won 46 games against neighbours Fulham, losing just 11. Although they have not always been in the same division, Chelsea have been defeated by Fulham just once, in 2006, since 1979. Chelsea have had the upper hand over Fulham Credit: Getty Images Over in Germany, Bayern Munich have dominated the Munich derby, winning 104 games against 1860 Munich and losing just 50. And on an international level, it is hard to find a more barren run of form than in the early decades of the USA’s rivalry with Mexico. After the Americans won in their first meeting, at the 1934 World Cup, Mexico went on an unbeaten run against the USA that stretched over 46 years and 26 matches until they were finally defeated in 1980. The anomalies In most of these cases, the results are an obvious consequence of the reflective sizes of the two clubs involved. It is no surprise, for example, that a club of Barcelona’s stature is so dominant over the comparably small Espanyol. But sometimes the derby serves as an equaliser, when the size of the various trophy cabinets has no impact on results. The so-called ‘smaller’ clubs can regularly claim the scalps of their ‘bigger’ rivals, or matches between sides at similar levels can become inexplicably uneven. Just look at the recent history of the ‘M23 derby’, between Crystal Palace and Brighton. Palace have had the upper hand, losing just one of the last eight games between the two. The 'M23 derby' is a fiercely-contested derby Credit: Getty And then there’s the East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City, two sides who, by and large, exist at the same echelons of English football. Norwich have not lost to Ipswich in nine matches since 2009. It is also an odd quirk that Stoke City have gone six matches without victory over Port Vale, and have won just two of the last 13 meetings between the two (that said, they have not faced each other since 2002, so those particular figures can appear misleading at first). What of Birmingham and Aston Villa? Here are two sides that played each other regularly in the Premier League in the 00s and have since faced off three times in the Championship, yet Birmingham have not won a league game between them in 11 attempts. The same applies to Sunderland and Newcastle. Both have generally operated at the lower end of the Premier League for the last five years, yet Sunderland’s record is one you would expect of a Champions League team playing a League One side: six wins in their last seven derbies, and no defeats in their last nine. Oxford United and Swindon Town have a similarly unbalanced recent record, with Oxford winning seven of the last eight meetings and going unbeaten in seven matches, in both league and cup competitions, since 2011. Too tight to call Of course, there are also those derbies that are so tightly-contested it is almost impossible to divide the two teams. For this, look no further than Nottingham Forest v Derby. Forest have won 39 times, while Derby have won 37. Burnley’s record against Blackburn Rovers is similarly tight: Burnley have won 41 while Blackburn have won 42. El Clasico is one of the tighest, high-profile rivalries Credit: AP Fulham may not have had much luck against Chelsea, but it’s a far tighter affair with fellow west Londoners QPR, who they have beaten 16 times but lost on 14 occasions. The ultimate in close derbies, though, is El Clasico. Barcelona and Real Madrid have played 172 times, with Real winning 72 and Barcelona winning 68. There’s also just seven goals between them: Real have scored 280, while Barcelona have scored 273.

Derby day: From one-sided fixtures to tight affairs - how will Merseyside and Manchester clashes play out?

It is a fact not lost on Merseyside that a generation of young Everton fans have never seen their side win at Anfield. More than 18 years have passed since the Toffees last took three points home with them on the short trip back across Stanley Park, with David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman all trying and failing to build a side capable of breaking the Anfield curse. It now falls to Sam Allardyce to rekindle the spirit of September 1999, when an early Kevin Campbell goal, created by a young Francis Jeffers, was enough to secure victory in a typically fiery encounter. Jeffers was later sent off, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, and they were soon joined by a fresh-faced Steven Gerrard, making just his second appearance in a Merseyside derby. Everton have beaten Liverpool at Goodison Park on just four occasions since then, making their rivalry one of the most one-sided in recent history. Liverpool have dominated Everton in recent years Credit: Getty There has, however, been plenty of competition down the years for the title of football’s most unbalanced derby. In some cases, a local derby serves as an equaliser, when better teams are routinely pegged back by smaller rivals. In others, the derby atmosphere has the opposite effect, causing one side to shrink and another to thrive… One-sided derbies Everton are by no means alone in consistently struggling against their local rivals. Famously, Atletico Madrid did not beat Real Madrid, home or away, for 14 years. When they finally broke that duck, it was in the Santiago Bernabeu in the final of the Copa del Rey. “If you had made the fans an offer in which you had said we won’t win against them for 14 years but when we do, it will be in the Cup final at their stadium, with them scoring first, hitting the post three times and us winning in extra time, they would have signed up for that,” said manager Diego Simeone afterwards. Elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona have won 97 of 167 derbies with Espanyol, and have lost just three of the last 41 meetings with their local rivals. It is a similar story in west London, where Chelsea have won 46 games against neighbours Fulham, losing just 11. Although they have not always been in the same division, Chelsea have been defeated by Fulham just once, in 2006, since 1979. Chelsea have had the upper hand over Fulham Credit: Getty Images Over in Germany, Bayern Munich have dominated the Munich derby, winning 104 games against 1860 Munich and losing just 50. And on an international level, it is hard to find a more barren run of form than in the early decades of the USA’s rivalry with Mexico. After the Americans won in their first meeting, at the 1934 World Cup, Mexico went on an unbeaten run against the USA that stretched over 46 years and 26 matches until they were finally defeated in 1980. The anomalies In most of these cases, the results are an obvious consequence of the reflective sizes of the two clubs involved. It is no surprise, for example, that a club of Barcelona’s stature is so dominant over the comparably small Espanyol. But sometimes the derby serves as an equaliser, when the size of the various trophy cabinets has no impact on results. The so-called ‘smaller’ clubs can regularly claim the scalps of their ‘bigger’ rivals, or matches between sides at similar levels can become inexplicably uneven. Just look at the recent history of the ‘M23 derby’, between Crystal Palace and Brighton. Palace have had the upper hand, losing just one of the last eight games between the two. The 'M23 derby' is a fiercely-contested derby Credit: Getty And then there’s the East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City, two sides who, by and large, exist at the same echelons of English football. Norwich have not lost to Ipswich in nine matches since 2009. It is also an odd quirk that Stoke City have gone six matches without victory over Port Vale, and have won just two of the last 13 meetings between the two (that said, they have not faced each other since 2002, so those particular figures can appear misleading at first). What of Birmingham and Aston Villa? Here are two sides that played each other regularly in the Premier League in the 00s and have since faced off three times in the Championship, yet Birmingham have not won a league game between them in 11 attempts. The same applies to Sunderland and Newcastle. Both have generally operated at the lower end of the Premier League for the last five years, yet Sunderland’s record is one you would expect of a Champions League team playing a League One side: six wins in their last seven derbies, and no defeats in their last nine. Oxford United and Swindon Town have a similarly unbalanced recent record, with Oxford winning seven of the last eight meetings and going unbeaten in seven matches, in both league and cup competitions, since 2011. Too tight to call Of course, there are also those derbies that are so tightly-contested it is almost impossible to divide the two teams. For this, look no further than Nottingham Forest v Derby. Forest have won 39 times, while Derby have won 37. Burnley’s record against Blackburn Rovers is similarly tight: Burnley have won 41 while Blackburn have won 42. El Clasico is one of the tighest, high-profile rivalries Credit: AP Fulham may not have had much luck against Chelsea, but it’s a far tighter affair with fellow west Londoners QPR, who they have beaten 16 times but lost on 14 occasions. The ultimate in close derbies, though, is El Clasico. Barcelona and Real Madrid have played 172 times, with Real winning 72 and Barcelona winning 68. There’s also just seven goals between them: Real have scored 280, while Barcelona have scored 273.

Derby day: From one-sided fixtures to tight affairs - how will Merseyside and Manchester clashes play out?

It is a fact not lost on Merseyside that a generation of young Everton fans have never seen their side win at Anfield. More than 18 years have passed since the Toffees last took three points home with them on the short trip back across Stanley Park, with David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman all trying and failing to build a side capable of breaking the Anfield curse. It now falls to Sam Allardyce to rekindle the spirit of September 1999, when an early Kevin Campbell goal, created by a young Francis Jeffers, was enough to secure victory in a typically fiery encounter. Jeffers was later sent off, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, and they were soon joined by a fresh-faced Steven Gerrard, making just his second appearance in a Merseyside derby. Everton have beaten Liverpool at Goodison Park on just four occasions since then, making their rivalry one of the most one-sided in recent history. Liverpool have dominated Everton in recent years Credit: Getty There has, however, been plenty of competition down the years for the title of football’s most unbalanced derby. In some cases, a local derby serves as an equaliser, when better teams are routinely pegged back by smaller rivals. In others, the derby atmosphere has the opposite effect, causing one side to shrink and another to thrive… One-sided derbies Everton are by no means alone in consistently struggling against their local rivals. Famously, Atletico Madrid did not beat Real Madrid, home or away, for 14 years. When they finally broke that duck, it was in the Santiago Bernabeu in the final of the Copa del Rey. “If you had made the fans an offer in which you had said we won’t win against them for 14 years but when we do, it will be in the Cup final at their stadium, with them scoring first, hitting the post three times and us winning in extra time, they would have signed up for that,” said manager Diego Simeone afterwards. Elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona have won 97 of 167 derbies with Espanyol, and have lost just three of the last 41 meetings with their local rivals. It is a similar story in west London, where Chelsea have won 46 games against neighbours Fulham, losing just 11. Although they have not always been in the same division, Chelsea have been defeated by Fulham just once, in 2006, since 1979. Chelsea have had the upper hand over Fulham Credit: Getty Images Over in Germany, Bayern Munich have dominated the Munich derby, winning 104 games against 1860 Munich and losing just 50. And on an international level, it is hard to find a more barren run of form than in the early decades of the USA’s rivalry with Mexico. After the Americans won in their first meeting, at the 1934 World Cup, Mexico went on an unbeaten run against the USA that stretched over 46 years and 26 matches until they were finally defeated in 1980. The anomalies In most of these cases, the results are an obvious consequence of the reflective sizes of the two clubs involved. It is no surprise, for example, that a club of Barcelona’s stature is so dominant over the comparably small Espanyol. But sometimes the derby serves as an equaliser, when the size of the various trophy cabinets has no impact on results. The so-called ‘smaller’ clubs can regularly claim the scalps of their ‘bigger’ rivals, or matches between sides at similar levels can become inexplicably uneven. Just look at the recent history of the ‘M23 derby’, between Crystal Palace and Brighton. Palace have had the upper hand, losing just one of the last eight games between the two. The 'M23 derby' is a fiercely-contested derby Credit: Getty And then there’s the East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City, two sides who, by and large, exist at the same echelons of English football. Norwich have not lost to Ipswich in nine matches since 2009. It is also an odd quirk that Stoke City have gone six matches without victory over Port Vale, and have won just two of the last 13 meetings between the two (that said, they have not faced each other since 2002, so those particular figures can appear misleading at first). What of Birmingham and Aston Villa? Here are two sides that played each other regularly in the Premier League in the 00s and have since faced off three times in the Championship, yet Birmingham have not won a league game between them in 11 attempts. The same applies to Sunderland and Newcastle. Both have generally operated at the lower end of the Premier League for the last five years, yet Sunderland’s record is one you would expect of a Champions League team playing a League One side: six wins in their last seven derbies, and no defeats in their last nine. Oxford United and Swindon Town have a similarly unbalanced recent record, with Oxford winning seven of the last eight meetings and going unbeaten in seven matches, in both league and cup competitions, since 2011. Too tight to call Of course, there are also those derbies that are so tightly-contested it is almost impossible to divide the two teams. For this, look no further than Nottingham Forest v Derby. Forest have won 39 times, while Derby have won 37. Burnley’s record against Blackburn Rovers is similarly tight: Burnley have won 41 while Blackburn have won 42. El Clasico is one of the tighest, high-profile rivalries Credit: AP Fulham may not have had much luck against Chelsea, but it’s a far tighter affair with fellow west Londoners QPR, who they have beaten 16 times but lost on 14 occasions. The ultimate in close derbies, though, is El Clasico. Barcelona and Real Madrid have played 172 times, with Real winning 72 and Barcelona winning 68. There’s also just seven goals between them: Real have scored 280, while Barcelona have scored 273.

Derby day: From one-sided fixtures to tight affairs - how will Merseyside and Manchester clashes play out?

It is a fact not lost on Merseyside that a generation of young Everton fans have never seen their side win at Anfield. More than 18 years have passed since the Toffees last took three points home with them on the short trip back across Stanley Park, with David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman all trying and failing to build a side capable of breaking the Anfield curse. It now falls to Sam Allardyce to rekindle the spirit of September 1999, when an early Kevin Campbell goal, created by a young Francis Jeffers, was enough to secure victory in a typically fiery encounter. Jeffers was later sent off, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, and they were soon joined by a fresh-faced Steven Gerrard, making just his second appearance in a Merseyside derby. Everton have beaten Liverpool at Goodison Park on just four occasions since then, making their rivalry one of the most one-sided in recent history. Liverpool have dominated Everton in recent years Credit: Getty There has, however, been plenty of competition down the years for the title of football’s most unbalanced derby. In some cases, a local derby serves as an equaliser, when better teams are routinely pegged back by smaller rivals. In others, the derby atmosphere has the opposite effect, causing one side to shrink and another to thrive… One-sided derbies Everton are by no means alone in consistently struggling against their local rivals. Famously, Atletico Madrid did not beat Real Madrid, home or away, for 14 years. When they finally broke that duck, it was in the Santiago Bernabeu in the final of the Copa del Rey. “If you had made the fans an offer in which you had said we won’t win against them for 14 years but when we do, it will be in the Cup final at their stadium, with them scoring first, hitting the post three times and us winning in extra time, they would have signed up for that,” said manager Diego Simeone afterwards. Elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona have won 97 of 167 derbies with Espanyol, and have lost just three of the last 41 meetings with their local rivals. It is a similar story in west London, where Chelsea have won 46 games against neighbours Fulham, losing just 11. Although they have not always been in the same division, Chelsea have been defeated by Fulham just once, in 2006, since 1979. Chelsea have had the upper hand over Fulham Credit: Getty Images Over in Germany, Bayern Munich have dominated the Munich derby, winning 104 games against 1860 Munich and losing just 50. And on an international level, it is hard to find a more barren run of form than in the early decades of the USA’s rivalry with Mexico. After the Americans won in their first meeting, at the 1934 World Cup, Mexico went on an unbeaten run against the USA that stretched over 46 years and 26 matches until they were finally defeated in 1980. The anomalies In most of these cases, the results are an obvious consequence of the reflective sizes of the two clubs involved. It is no surprise, for example, that a club of Barcelona’s stature is so dominant over the comparably small Espanyol. But sometimes the derby serves as an equaliser, when the size of the various trophy cabinets has no impact on results. The so-called ‘smaller’ clubs can regularly claim the scalps of their ‘bigger’ rivals, or matches between sides at similar levels can become inexplicably uneven. Just look at the recent history of the ‘M23 derby’, between Crystal Palace and Brighton. Palace have had the upper hand, losing just one of the last eight games between the two. The 'M23 derby' is a fiercely-contested derby Credit: Getty And then there’s the East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City, two sides who, by and large, exist at the same echelons of English football. Norwich have not lost to Ipswich in nine matches since 2009. It is also an odd quirk that Stoke City have gone six matches without victory over Port Vale, and have won just two of the last 13 meetings between the two (that said, they have not faced each other since 2002, so those particular figures can appear misleading at first). What of Birmingham and Aston Villa? Here are two sides that played each other regularly in the Premier League in the 00s and have since faced off three times in the Championship, yet Birmingham have not won a league game between them in 11 attempts. The same applies to Sunderland and Newcastle. Both have generally operated at the lower end of the Premier League for the last five years, yet Sunderland’s record is one you would expect of a Champions League team playing a League One side: six wins in their last seven derbies, and no defeats in their last nine. Oxford United and Swindon Town have a similarly unbalanced recent record, with Oxford winning seven of the last eight meetings and going unbeaten in seven matches, in both league and cup competitions, since 2011. Too tight to call Of course, there are also those derbies that are so tightly-contested it is almost impossible to divide the two teams. For this, look no further than Nottingham Forest v Derby. Forest have won 39 times, while Derby have won 37. Burnley’s record against Blackburn Rovers is similarly tight: Burnley have won 41 while Blackburn have won 42. El Clasico is one of the tighest, high-profile rivalries Credit: AP Fulham may not have had much luck against Chelsea, but it’s a far tighter affair with fellow west Londoners QPR, who they have beaten 16 times but lost on 14 occasions. The ultimate in close derbies, though, is El Clasico. Barcelona and Real Madrid have played 172 times, with Real winning 72 and Barcelona winning 68. There’s also just seven goals between them: Real have scored 280, while Barcelona have scored 273.

Mourinho's Approach, Manchester Derby Result May Impact More Than Just Title Race

When Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola took the managerial jobs at Manchester United and Manchester City, we dreamed of a title decider, an apocalyptic clash of two different conceptions of football between two men who once worked together but now, after their grim battle in Spain, can barely disguise their distaste for each other. We just didn’t think it would come at the beginning of December.

Of course, nothing will actually be decided at Old Trafford on Sunday, but if Man United falls, it will trail City by 11 points. Bigger margins have been overhauled later in the season, but not against a squad as accomplished and deep as City’s. This, it turns out, is the problem with having a Big Six. If one is better than the rest, the other five take points off each other and the leader surges away.

The consequences are greater for United than for City. Even if City is beaten, it will still be five points clear at the top, although coming after its first defeat of the season, away at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, it may come as a significant blow to confidence. City, having already qualified for the last 16, fielded a much-changed side in that game, so it would be relatively easy to discount had it not come after its least convincing spell of the season, a run of four single-goal victories, each secured with a goal in the final 10 minutes of the game.

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But for United, defeat might have consequences that stretch far beyond missing out on the title this season. Mourinho, it’s safe to assume, will have his side sit deep and look to absorb pressure, allowing City to dominate possession. That, as Diego Torres set out in his controversial biography of Mourinho, is how he approaches any big game, particularly away from home. Torres lists a seven-point program he claims (and his book is clearly informed by excellent sources within the Real Madrid dressing room) Mourinho applies to any tough match. They essentially can be boiled down to just one, number six: “He who has the ball has fear.”

And here it makes perfect sense, even if City isn’t exactly a side that looks terrified in possession. Each of those recent one-goal victories in which City struggled for the fluidity that had defined the club early in the season was against sides that sat deep and denied City space. Guardiola has been sufficiently troubled by the trend to attack West Ham for its style of play and to accost Southampton’s Nathan Redmond as he left the pitch, seemingly to tell him he was too good to play so defensively.

The absence of the suspended Paul Pogba means Mourinho's side is unlikely to be fluent through the midfield. Without him, it is essentially forced to sit seven men behind the ball, play direct to Romelu Lukaku and look to Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial’s pace bursting from deep to cause problems. Happily for United, that’s an area in which City is vulnerable. Fernandinho, as the lone holding midfielder, can be overmanned, while central defender Nicolas Otamendi, for all his improvement this season, can still be exposed by players running at him.

So the strategy of sitting off makes perfect sense. Mourinho was criticized for it away at Liverpool–largely because, given the defensive vulnerabilities of Klopp’s side, particularly in the weeks immediately before that game, it seemed an opportunity spurned–but it worked at home to Tottenham, which did, obligingly, make the mistake that cost a goal just when United needed it.

But there is a wider question here, and it’s one that came to undermine Mourinho at Real Madrid. Certain clubs have expectations. Madrid and United are the two wealthiest sides in the world. Mourinho’s underdog shtick makes little sense at the Bernabeu or Old Trafford. Their fans have certain ideas about style and codes of behavior. Both clubs appointed Mourinho with an apparent sense of reluctance only when he had been left as the only viable option and with a specific brief to take down Guardiola. All of which means that if results go awry, criticism will follow sooner than it would in other circumstances.

"If you're just going to keep losing," AS's editor Alfredo Relaño asked early in 2012, after Mourinho’s Madrid had lost in the Copa del Rey to Guardiola’s Barcelona, "what's the need to lose your decorum too?"

And that gets to the crux of it. Fans, pundits and directors will accept safety-first football as long as it’s successful; as soon as it isn’t, there’s nothing left to support. As it turned out, Mourinho went on to win the league in 2011-12, but the background sense of dissatisfaction turned toxic and led to his departure at the end of the following season, his third.

Mourinho, notoriously, always wins the league in his second season at a club and then things unravel in his third. Perhaps not winning the league in his second season would defer the decline, but at every club at which he’s begun a third season, there has been an acrimonious end, with players left emotionally exhausted.

Paradigms aren’t necessarily forever, but should United lose to City, even having dropped points in only four league games this season, even with all his vociferous backers on social media, it could mark the beginning of a significant shift in Mourinho’s relationship with United.

Sunday’s game could effectively decide this season’s Premier League title, but it might also be about far more than that.

Barcelona faces Celta in Copa del Rey, Madrid gets Numancia

Barcelona will face Celta Vigo in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, and Real Madrid will play second-division club Numancia.

Copa holders Barca to face Celta, Madrid meet Numancia

Three-time defending champions Barcelona will face Celta Vigo in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey while Real Madrid will take on Numancia.

Barcelona faces Celta in Copa del Rey, Madrid gets Numancia

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo attends a training session in Madrid, Tuesday Dec. 5, 2017. Real Madrid will play Borussia Dortmund Wednesday in a Group H Champions League soccer match. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Barcelona faces Celta in Copa del Rey, Madrid gets Numancia

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo jumps to head a ball during a training session in Madrid, Tuesday Dec. 5, 2017. Real Madrid will play Borussia Dortmund Wednesday in a Group H Champions League soccer match. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Barcelona faces Celta in Copa del Rey, Madrid gets Numancia

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi takes part in a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, Spain, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. FC Barcelona will play against Sporting CP in a Champions League Group D soccer match on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal scores during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale shoots the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Real Madrid won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Ramos cleared to play for Real Madrid in La Liga

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale shoots the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Real Madrid won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Cadiz eliminates Real Betis in Copa del Rey thriller

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal scores during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal scores during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Gareth Bale's hardships continue at Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, left, controls the ball next to Fuenlabrada's Luis Milla during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Real Madrid won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Gareth Bale's hardships continue at Real Madrid

FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2017 file photo, Real Madrid's Gareth Bale steps from the tunnel onto the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. Bale is expected to make his return to Real Madrid's lineup in a Copa del Rey match against Fuenlabrada on Tuesday Nov. 28, 2017 after being sidelined for more than two months because of injuries. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)

Gareth Bale's hardships continue at Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale runs with the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Gareth Bale's hardships continue at Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, right, shoots the ball next to Fuenlabrada's Fran Garcia during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Real Madrid won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, left, controls the ball next to Fuenlabrada's Luis Milla during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Real Madrid won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale runs with the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2017 file photo, Real Madrid's Gareth Bale steps from the tunnel onto the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. Bale is expected to make his return to Real Madrid's lineup in a Copa del Rey match against Fuenlabrada on Tuesday Nov. 28, 2017 after being sidelined for more than two months because of injuries. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, right, shoots the ball next to Fuenlabrada's Fran Garcia during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Real Madrid won 4-2 on aggregate. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Gerard Piqu, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal scores during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Paco Alcacer, left, celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Paco Alcacer, 17, center, is congratulated by teammates after scored during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal, center, celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Paco Alcacer, second left, scores during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Jose Arnaiz celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal, second right, kicks the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

FC Barcelona's Gerard Deulofeu, second left, kicks the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Atletico Madrid 3 Elche 0 (4-1 agg): Torres double sees Simeone's men cruise through

Atletico Madrid cruised into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey thanks to a comfortable second-leg win over Elche.

FC Barcelona's Paco Alcacer, left, celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

FC Barcelona's Paco Alcacer, 17, center, is congratulated by teammates after scored during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

FC Barcelona's Aleix Vidal, center, celebrates after scoring during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Murcia at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

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