REAL Madrid manager Jose Mourinho believes tonight’s opponents Manchester City are certain to win a first Champions League title and that the only true question concerns when.
It is at the Bernabeu that Mourinho’s men will attempt to defeat the wealthy Premier League champions but regardless of if they do so, the Portuguese, winner of two Champions League titles with Porto and Inter Milan, is adamant that City’s eventual success will remain an inevitability and has compared their status to that of Chelsea when he was in charge.
“I don’t think it is very different to Chelsea,” said Mourinho, who won two Premier League titles when manager of the London club between 2004 and 2007. “Since Roman [Abramovich] bought the club, [Claudio] Ranieri was the first coach, then I came and we won the first league, some cups and some more titles.
“Carlo [Ancelotti] then came and they continued to win and finally they won the Champions League.
“With City it started off with Mark Hughes, they started spending money and buying good players.
“Then Roberto [Mancini] came and he has done a very good job. He has created a great squad, the first cup then the first title.
“I don’t know if it is this season or next season with Roberto, or with another person in the future, but normally in the direction the club is going, sooner or later they will win the big cup.”
Real’s Liga title defence has begun incompetently to allow bitter rivals Barcelona to build an early eightpoint advantage over them; only on Saturday did Real lose 1-0 to Sevilla but despite Mourinho previously questioning his players’ commitment, he maintains that there is no need for him to overhaul or reshape his side.
“The line-up will not be very different, nor will I try to show any player that they are not in the best condition,” he said. “It will be the best that I consider to play against opposition full of players of the highest level.
“I don’t believe I have created doubts. The principal person responsible is me. When my teams win, we win together, and when we lose, I am the one responsible.”
City manager Roberto Mancini had been concerned about the availability of £38m record signing Sergio Aguero but he tonight appears likely to feature at some point after recovering from a knee injury, as does influential midfielder David Silva, who yesterday signed a new five-year contract to remain at the club until 2017.