Pep Guardiola ‘a reference for all managers’, says Sporting boss Ruben Amorim

Rangers v Sporting Braga – UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 – First Leg – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Sporting Lisbon coach Ruben Amorim claims taking on Pep Guardiola is like comparing primary school to university.

Amorim, 37, is one of the highest-rated young coaches in Portugal, having led Sporting to the Primeira Liga title last year and guided them through to the Champions League knockout stages this term.

It is only the second time Sporting have reached the last 16 and the first time in 13 years.

Guardiola is the best coach in the world, according to Amorim

Guardiola is the best coach in the world, according to Amorim (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Yet, for all the plaudits, the former Benfica and Portugal midfielder recognises he is still only a novice compared to Manchester City boss Guardiola, whom he faces at the Jose Alvalade Stadium on Tuesday.

“My manager reference has always been (Jose) Mourinho, but Guardiola is, in my opinion, the best coach in the world today,” said Amorim ahead of Sporting’s last-16 first-leg clash against Guardiola’s City.

“Manchester City are the best team in technical and tactical terms. Sporting are very structured, not very flexible, but Guardiola is the opposite and has a huge flexibility.

“It’s like I’m in elementary school and he’s in higher education. He is a reference for all managers.”

Yet while Amorim, who has also won a League Cup with Braga and two more with Sporting, was modest about his own credentials, he was happy to talk up the potential of his players.

City, Premier League winners in three of the past four seasons, are again among the Champions League favourites after reaching the final last year.

Amorim, however, is confident his side can match them.

“They have a great squad but our hunger to win can make special things happen,” he said at his pre-match press conference. “We want to win tomorrow and make the fans proud of us.

“We are facing the match with confidence and have a plan. Sporting players have the quality and talent to play at this level. Maybe they just don’t have the coach to do it!

“There are a lot of things we do well and we will try to do them tomorrow.”

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The build-up to the game has been overshadowed by the fall-out from Sporting’s chaotic and controversial clash with title rivals Porto on Friday.

Four players were sent off in a fiery 2-2 draw that ended in a mass brawl involving players and staff from both clubs.

Sanctions are likely to follow, but Amorim will not let that affect his planning.

“What happened against Porto will have no consequences for our approach to the match or any influence on the game whatsoever,” he said.

“It is very difficult to take away focus from this match. This is a great showcase for Sporting.”

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