Henry: Playing under Guardiola felt like playing chess

The former French forward says playing for Pep Guardiola is demanding and explains the tactical requirements from players.

Barcelona players give departing manager Pep Guardiola a celebratory send-off after his last fixture in charge   -  REUTERS

Former France striker Thierry Henry has explained what it was like to play for Spaniard Pep Guardiola who is one of the most decorated managers in club football currently.

Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007 after scoring 226 goals and helping the Gunners to two Premier League titles.

“Arsenal, I never thought I was going to leave but I did,” Henry told Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero during an Instagram chat for Puma.

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“I went to Barcelona, a different type of game, a different type of style to relearn how to play the game because at Arsenal, Dennis was there, Kanu was there and I could move everywhere upfront, come in the middle, get the ball, go on the right and the left,” he added.

Henry also explained how playing for Barcelona was totally different from how he used to play at Arsenal. Guardiola was named the manager after Frank Rijkaard was sacked following an indifferent season at the Catalan-based club.

Henry gave an insight into Guardiola’s mind and how he used to set up his team to get the better of the opposition. Henry also explained why playing under Guardiola felt like playing a game of chess.

“Suddenly you arrive at Barcelona and I had Rijkaard asking me to stay on the left and then when Pep arrived...Pep is an amazing coach first and foremost but he’s very demanding, very intense and it’s almost like you play chess with him,” Henry said.

“You need to make fake runs to take the backline away, to create space for the No. 10 on your side because we were playing with one holding midfielder and two No. 10s so I always had to make runs in behind to make sure that Andres (Iniesta) was going to get the ball and if you don’t you kill the space.

“I started to understand space, move in the space. It was a different type of game and then once I did adjust and adapt than in 2009 we went on the year of winning everything possible. It was an amazing time but as you know, Arsenal is in my heart,” he added.

Henry won two league titles with Barcelona along with one Copa del Rey trophy. He also helped it win the Champions League title and the Club World Cup.

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