As Real Madrid drop two more points in the La Liga title race while Barcelona win another one and the gap now 7 points between the arch rivals and with 13 games left, Jose Mourinho dug deep into the bag of his usual excuses.
“Only one Team Wanted to Win and All that we were missing was a goal.”
When Barcelona played at the Riazor, nearly two months ago (January 8), they won 4-0. They had only 8 shots at goal as compared to Real Madrid’s 21 last night. When you’re 2-0 up at the 50th minute there’s not that much of a need to hit the gas. Messi and Villa scored twice in two minutes near the end.
“Deportivo practically didn’t touch the ball in the second half and we played against a goalkeeper and ten defenders. All that matters is the outcome, but I cannot criticize my players. One team played to win and the other worked very hard to take one point. The team that was after the point got what it wanted. I think it would have been fair had the match ended 0-1.”
I think it would have been fair if Barcelona would have knocked out Inter last season from the Champions League. Mourinho isn’t criticizing Deportivo for their lack of attacking play but decided that lack of possession merits his team a victory. In the second leg of last season’s Champions League Semi Final between Barcelona and Inter Inter had 25% of the posession with only one attempt at goal. Mourinho applauded his players for shedding blood on the pitch.
Guardiola after the match said: ” I know we’re Barça but when nine players are defending inside the opposition box it’s not easy. Sometimes attacking seems a lot harder than defending. We tried, but they defended well. We won’t be looking for excuses. Every player, every coach and every team plays how they want to and it’s not for me to judge.”
“I don’t like to speak about the referee’s performance. I don’t know if it was a hand ball because I was too far to see it. In Lyon I did see it from a distance. There was no doubt in my mind. I didn’t see this penalty as clearly. I spoke to the fourh referee about being more well-mannered with my players because he was speaking to them in a way that isn’t normal.”
I don’t think that Mourinho forgot to mention the referee every time Real Madrid don’t win. After the loss at Osasuna, Real’s second this season, Mourinho spoke about the referee despite not liking it, saying: “Barcelona don’t get treated that way.”
“I will always try to defend the interests of Real Madrid and its fans. The schedule is decided by people who know what they are doing. Playing on Sunday would have been the normal thing to do. The people who drew up the calendar knew what they were doing. People laugh behind my back, but I will continue speaking out against a situation that is clear to everyone. It is something that is impossible to deny, but that’s a whole other matter.”
I don’t understand. Four days isn’t enough for Mourinho after the match against Lyon?
Look, sometimes, well not sometimes, Barcelona get tons of love from the press. In Spain it’s more of local thing – Madrid media support Real, Catalan media support Barcelona, but the pressure Mourinho is feeling isn’t just from Spain. The La Liga is probably the second most popular league in the world these days and Real Madrid are always among the most watched team in the world. The pressure drips down from all over.
Mourinho likes to defend his players, putting himself and his words, true or not, as shields to deflect the criticism. He’s willing to take it if it keeps the players focused. Still, the 5-0 loss to Barcelona rocked him. Yes, even him. He realized the difference, right now, between the two mega-clubs. It’s not that Barcelona are that much better than Real. Real still have a chance of winning the title, especially if they beat the Messi circus when they arrive at the Bernabeu. But Barcelona are a much healthier club, at least the infrastructure and the whole system of bringing in & up players.
Mourinho knows Barcelona are the better side right now, but he can’t say it. You can’t say that Barcelona are better when you’re the head coach of Real Madrid. Juande Ramos tried that and has hardly been heard from since. A 6-2 drubbing in the Clasico also didn’t help. He got unlucky with Higuain’s injury, and brought in a wrong player (Adebayor) in my opinion. Still, complaining that your squad isn’t deep enough after spending so much money in the off season can’t help your cause with the board.
Whether it was Mourinho’s decision about the players brought in or the GM’s, Jorge Valdano, Mourinho usually reaches a peak with his team during his second season. With all the power struggles behind the scenes at Madrid, who knows if Mourinho will survive this season with the club always trigger happy about its coaches. He withstood tons of pressure during his first season in Italy but still won the league title. The next year was when it all clicked and Mourinho had the team he really wanted.
I don’t think he’ll be able to win the La Liga this season but the Champions League is the real goal, and right now he’s in good position. He can’t play, if and when needed, like he did with Inter last season, but his side, despite the complaints, have enough talent and firepower to go all the way. I hope he does enough this season to get another year with Real. Barcelona can’t stay perfect forever and soccer, like everything else, has a cycle, even if Barcelona has Guardiola and Messi. Real Madrid will be Spanish and European champions again, and I hope Mourinho gets a chance to be the man to do it. He just needs to gain control of the crazy chase after the Catalans and focus on his own team.