Mourinho questions Mancini's Champions League record with City
The Real Madrid boss had plenty to say before tonight’s game at the Etihad, writes JAMIE JACKSON
Jose Mourinho has questioned Roberto Mancini’s record with Manchester City in the Champions League, claiming it is “not normal” for a club with the potential to win the competition to be eliminated in the group stage.
The Real Madrid manager believes City will be knocked out during the phase for a successive season even if Mancini’s team beat Real tonight and Borussia Dortmund in their final match.
City are bottom of Group D with two points while Real are second with seven and yet to be defeated. Mourinho, who has won the competition with Porto and Internazionale, said of City: “I think they are a team to win the competition, one of the teams to win it. I think it is normal if a big team doesn’t win the competition because there are other teams with the same power, desire and responsibility and only one can win.
“I don’t think that it is normal when you are out of the competition at a very early stage. This season they will be out.
“I think they can win tomorrow and at Dortmund – why not? But eight points is not enough and I think they will be out for a second successive time and that must be difficult for them.”
In the opening group match City led 2-1 at Real with four minutes remaining before Mourinho’s side won 3-2.
“It’s a difficult group and since the beginning we know a big team or two would be out so every mistake is costly. Every game is a risk,” he said.
“Other teams have easy groups and know from day one they will qualify easy. City, Real Madrid and Borussia want to win but we all knew we could be out in the group, especially because Ajax are taking points.
Real got their campaign off to a winning start when they produced that dramatic comeback to inflict defeat on City at the Bernabeu two months ago. Mourinho, a twice winner of the Champions League, knew it was a vital first step.
“That first game was crucial. If City won that match, the history would be different but we won that match with a great reaction and now we are in a position where we depend only on ourselves and we are in a good condition to qualify,” said the former Chelsea and Inter boss.
The 49-year-old, who has regularly spoken of his love for England, has been linked with a return to the Premier League and again teased journalists by suggesting he could come back.
He said: “If I can speak of the beauty of my experience – the chance I had to leave my country to make the lap, to go around England, Italy, Spain and to get the best and worst of these experiences to make me a better manager.
“After that, when you have the experience of the most important countries, I think the normal thing is to evaluate, decide where you are happier and make the choice for the future.”
When asked if that specifically meant England, he said: “I don’t think it is interesting to talk about my career and my future. We are here to talk about a Champions League game. That is what we are here for and that is what we are going to talk about.
“I never hide my feelings, even if that makes some people not so happy, but I always said how much I loved my time here and I always like to be back,” added Mourinho.
Real will be without the injured Michael Essien, Gonzalo Higuain, Marcelo and Alvaro Morata at Eastlands.
City v Real Some key battles
Mancini v Mourinho
The most important battle could be in the dug-out as two former Inter Milan coaches and perceived rivals try to outwit each other. Both managers have had their local critics this season but their records speak for themselves and their squads are packed with quality.
Kompany v Ronaldo
City captain Kompany, formidable last season, has been under scrutiny this season and must now deal with the threat of one of the world’s most devastating players cutting in from the left. Kompany was criticised for ducking under Ronaldo’s late winning shot when the sides met at the Bernabeu in September.
Barry v Ozil
Midfield man Barry could be deployed in the anchor role to keep an eye on Ozil, who is the creative link between Real’s central positions and their attack. The German seems to be back in favour with Mourinho after some reported difficulties earlier in the campaign.
Aguero v Ramos
Aguero, after scoring four goals in his last three games, is now starting to find his rhythm after injury sidelined him for a month at the start of the season. Experienced Spain international Ramos forms the backbone of the Real defence with Pepe.