MADRID vs BARCELONA
REAL MADRID manager Jose Mourinho insists his positive record against Barcelona is down to diligence and hard work rather than any “magic potion” as he attempts to mastermind their downfall in tonight’s Champions League semi-final first leg.
Mourinho got the better of the Catalans in last season’s semi-final when in charge of ?Inter and also lowered their colours twice during his tenure at Chelsea. Last week he secured his first trophy since moving to the Bernabeu when Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal secured a first Copa del Rey success for Madrid since 1993 at Barca’s expense.
But Mourinho admitted: “I don’t have a magic potion to beat Barcelona. I work very hard and very seriously, and I spend many hours trying to help the people around, but a few months ago we lost 5-0 (at the Camp Nou) and I was the manager then.
“We played a good match (against Barca) at the Bernabeu in the league and we also played a good match in Valencia (6-3 win on Saturday), but tomorrow we are facing a top opponent with a top coach.”
However, quoting Albert Einstein, the Portuguese recalled the adage of where there is a will there is a way.
He said: “I told my players there was someone called Albert, Albert Einstein, who said that there is a force more powerful than steam, electricity and atomic energy – will. And this guy Albert was not stupid.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola lost his customary cool last night when he reacted to Mourinho’s comments about tonight’s Portuguese referee.
“I’m going to do what Mourinho taught me. Tomorrow we’ll take to the pitch. Off the pitch he’s beaten me,” he said. “In this room [the press area] he’s the ******* chief, the ******* boss, and I can never compete.
“On the field I try to learn a lot when I play against him. Off the field, I try to learn little. You can play in many ways – the method he uses is very good.”
EL CLASICO | THE SCORE SO FAR
Tonight’s showdown represents the third of four meetings between the two Spanish giants in 17 days. Here’s a recap of what’s gone before:
16 April: Barca virtually wrapped up the league title after a 1-1 draw which saw Ronaldo’s penalty cancel out Messi’s earlier spot kick. Real played the majority of the second-half with 10 men
20 April: Jose Mourinho claimed his first silverware as Real coach when Ronaldo’s extra-time header secured a 1-0 win in Valencia in the Copa del Rey final. Celebrations were soured slightly when Sergio Ramos dropped the trophy from the team bus