Jose Mourinho did what his instincts tell him. The instincts that have helped him win two Champions League titles in the past. You go for the kill at home. Away, even if you’re Real Madrid, you play cautiously. Probably too cautiously, losing to Bayern Munich with a last gasp goal from Mario Gomez. In the big picture, Real are in pretty good shape.
Howard Webb was probably the most surprising figure after the affair at the Allianz-Arena. The highly criticized referee got every decision spot on, failing to fall victim to excessive diving or the usual ganging up on referees. His only mistake came seconds before the final whistle, when Marcelo was only booked instead of sent off for his foul on Thomas Muller.
Mourinho couldn’t let things just blow over without actually complaining, so he said there was an offside during the Franck Ribery goal by one of Bayern’s players who might have been distracting or disrupting Iker Casillas. Nonsense, but you can’t actually expect Mourinho to not have one bad thing to say about his rivals or the referee, right?
A nice theory offered to me by my friendly colleague is that Real can’t come away with both trophies this season. It might not have been clear, so he said, earlier this season, when Real were still undefeated in the Champions League and 10 points ahead in the league, but it’s crystal clear to him now. I think it all depends on the Clasico.
Like it or not, everything Mourinho has done in recent weeks reeks of panic. His defensive substitutions are too much for a team with so much talent, sending the wrong message to his players. Sending Karanka instead of showing up to press conferences sends the wrong message to his players. And after all his fantastic work, record breaking season and all, here comes the Clasico, looming around the corner.
The same can be said for Barcelona – They can’t win both titles. But both of them, probably, go through Real Madrid, assuming Real knock off Bayern. Maybe the entire ending to this season hinges on the result of the final Clasico. If Real manage to come away with a point or three from the Nou Camp, the title is there’s. Lose or worse, and the one point lead won’t be enough to hold off Pep’s players.
And after all, in the small spectrum and narrow vision of the Champions League, Mourinho should count himself lucky. No one sent off, no one suspended for yellow cards. Like he said – All they need is a ‘normal’ win to go through, something that’s likely to happen.
We don’t need any crazy result in the return leg – we can win with a normal result and go through. I think my team can respond to this game, with our fans behind us.
In the process of going for it all, Real get two extra days of rest over Barcelona. Four days before the Clasico, four days after the Clasico. Another excuse Mourinho can’t use this time if Real manage to mess it up.