Jose Mourinho vs Barcelona
Ironically, Mourinho once worked for the Catalan club, as an interpreter for the late Sir Bobby Robson during the years 1996 to 1997. Although this tenure was short and very much a backroom job, the Portuguese learned plenty about the club and its values.
When he became Chelsea manager in 2004, Mourinho would have the chance to return to the Camp Nou in the champions league round of 16. Not surprisingly, Mourinho left Catalonia making the headlines the next day, after Mourinho shockingly accused referee Anders Frisk of conspiring with Barcelona to make sure that Chelsea doesn’t go through. Over these two matches, Chelsea went through 6-5 on aggregate. Round 1 to Mourinho.
A year later, and it was Barcelona v Chelsea yet again, and this time it was Barcelona who went through. Mourinho didn’t complain much, but you could tell this was a highly painful defeat for the then Chelsea manager. Four years on, and Mourinho was managing then Italian champions, Internazionale or Inter Milan for short.
This round went to Mourinho as well as Barcelona, the tournament’s winners in the previous year, Barcelona were knocked out in the semi finals thanks to a 3-1 Inter win in Milan, followed by an outstanding defensive display by Inter meant Barca’s 1-0 win on the night wasn’t enough. A magnificent achievement by Mourinho as Inter went on to win the champions league that season.
After this, Mourinho needed a new challenge and Real Madrid offered that. With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, many felt Real had a genuine chance of winning both the Champions League and La Liga.
However, their hope was extinguished in November after Mourinho’s men received a 5-0 hiding with Messi, Villa and Iniesta particularly impressive on the night. La Liga was gone, but Mourinho could get revenge on Barca in the Champions League semi final.
The stage was set: a warm spring night in Madrid, with an El Clasico for a Champions League semi final with millions watching around the world. What followed in the first leg was a highly charged game which led to a sending off for Real Madrid player, Pepe, after a tackle on Dani Alves. The replay showed minimal contact and Mourinho was sent to the stands for his reaction to the decision.
Two late goals from Lionel Messi won the game for Barca and despite their best efforts, Real Madrid could only manage a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou.
Pepe’s red card meant Real Madrid had four players sent off in their past four matches with Barcelona. A Copa del Rey victory where they beat Barca in the final meant that Mourinho’s 2010/11 season wasn’t entirely unsuccessful.
The start of the 2011/12 season and neither team had changed all that much. Barca bought Alexis Sanchez and real Madrid bought Nuri Sahin, but there was little expectation that either man would make a huge, immediate impact.
The season’s first Classico took place at the Bernabeu and Real Madrid went in with a three point advantage over their great rivals. However, despite Madrid taking the lead, Barca came back to comprehensively win 3-1. At this stage, some thought that Barcelona would get back to their dominance of La liga, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s fired Madrid to the top of the league standing.
At the time of writing, Madrid currently lie ten points ahead of Barcelona. For the first time in years, there is a sense of negativity in Catalonia. If Real Madrid can eclipse Barcelona this season, it shall be the first time since the 2006/07 season that a club other than Barcelona will win La Liga.
The job that Mourinho was called upon to do in summer 2010, is two months away from completion. Iconic status among Madrid’s passionate fans lies in wait for Mourinho as well as putting his own personal demons to rest.
Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow him on Twitter @chelsealad1365
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