The Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, in the aftermath of his team’s 2-2 draw in the King’s Cup, claimed it was impossible to win at Barcelona’s home ground.
As if he is right especially considering his record there as a rival coach, but again when you look at how his Real team snuffed out the European champions in the 2-2 draw in midweek, you get an otherwise feeling.
Despite being knocked out of the only competition they managed to win last season, Mourinho’s team emerged with much credit and their morale enhanced. I believe, after this result, Real players will feel a lot more confident of holding on their precious 5-point lead at the top of the La Liga table standing.
As people were starting to feel as though El Clasico was losing it’s original meaning, the Special One came up with something to suggest the nine-time European champions are not too far behind their traditional archrivals, if the coach got his tactics right.
On the eve of the game, Barcelona coach Guardiola insisted that his team’s biggest problem was the assumption that they were already in the semi-final, having won the first leg 2-1 at Santiago Bernabeu.
For Mourinho and his team, the game was always likely to be less about the result and more about saving face because ‘everyone’ was predicting the team from the Spanish capital were in for a beating.
But at full time, although it was Barca through to the next round (where they’ll face Valencia), Real Madrid emerged from a breathtaking draw with head high.
Bar the over-zealousness with which Madrid players went into challenges, each one of them will feel as though they answered a few questions after that game. He had scored just once in eight games against Barca, but now Cristiano Ronaldo has two in two, after finding the net in both cup encounters.
Madrid were never expected to progress, at least considering the result from the first leg, and playing without that pressure, they players put probably the best performance against their old enemies during Mourinho reign. Mourinho’s side have now faced Barcelona 10 times and won just once.
This time, Real Madrid chose to be brave and they almost got the reward for going to Nou Camp to play and not to defend. Madrid had competed for possession and territory.
They also had more shots on and off target, actually, had striker Higuain come wearing his scoring boots….? Who knows, maybe we would be talking about how good this Madrid side are, and not that Mourinho’s days at the Bernabeu are numbered!
Defender Sergio Ramos, who was sent off towards the end for a second yellow card, declared himself “super proud” of his team, saying they had been “very superior”.
“We leave with the feeling that today we have stood up to them,” said Iker Casillas.
In the build-up to the game at Nou Camp, stories were all over the place, reporting of the intrigues within the Madrid camp, Real fans booing Ronaldo and Mourinho, the Special One getting angry but putting on a brave face.
The former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager doesn’t look like a man happy despite his team sitting five points clear of their closest rivals and reigning champions at the half way stage of the season. He seems to feel unwanted by the Madrid media and a section of Real fans.
Talk of sacking Mourinho is a little premature, none the less; if the Portuguese feels unwanted, he will leave, but not before making sure he leads Madrid to their first La Liga title in four years. And Madrid are sitting pretty well in the Champions League.