Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka has allayed fears of a rift between Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho after the forward criticised the defensive tactics deployed against Barcelona last week.
Madrid lost the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final tie 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, thanks to a brace from Lionel Messi in the second-half. Pepe was sent off just after the hour-mark for a challenge on Daniel Alves but Mourinho’s approach to the game until then had been defensive, a tactic that Ronaldo was not happy with.
"No, I don't like it but I have to adapt to what is asked of me,” he said. "This is the way it is. We have a strategy."
However, Karanka, who stood in for Mourinho in the pre-match press conference on Monday ahead of their second-leg at Camp Nou, played down reports of any friction between the two Portuguese.
"We have to respect people saying that we're defensive,” said Karanka. “Cristiano said that and if he has to be in the starting XI then he will be. Tomorrow we will see if we play defensively or not."
Mourinho will be absent from the dug-out after his expulsion last week for protesting at Pepe’s red card but Karanka believes that this will not affect them in any way.
"The coach won't be on the bench or in the dressing room area,” he said. “We had that situation against Auxerre [that ended in a 4-0 win for Madrid] so it isn't a problem."
Karanka also expressed his disappointment at Uefa’s rejection of Madrid’s complaint against Barcelona. The capital club reported Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Jose Pinto, Seydou Keita and Victor Valdes for unsporting behaviour and also released video footage claiming that Busquets had thrown a racist slur toward full-back Marcelo.
"Tomorrow's match has been pushed to the background due to today's Uefa resolution,” began Karanka. “Uefa promotes respect and fair play everywhere, but everyone saw what happened at the Bernabeu on Wednesday and no one has done anything about it. Football has a certain set of values and tomorrow's match is less important.
"What matters today is that Uefa have allowed actions described in the rules and regulations to go unpunished, but this wasn't the case for Real Madrid two months ago for something that cannot be found in rules and regulations.
"Once again, we see different yardsticks are used here. A few months ago, Mourinho and some of our players were suspended for something that cannot be found in the rules and regulations. But something that can indeed be found in them, and that everyone saw happened [not just Real Madrid], went unpunished today. These are objective matters that can easily be verified.
"There will be players on the pitch tomorrow who everyone saw did not uphold respect and fair play on Wednesday. They even made racist insults covering their mouths so that no one could read their lips. Two of our players [Pepe and Sergio Ramos] did nothing of the sort and will not be at the stadium tomorrow.
"We are Real Madrid,” he added. “We wear a crest and represent an institution that has never failed to face up to challenges in its 109-year old history.
“The only thing that matters to us now is reaching the Wembley final. Our coach feels bad for not being able to be with the team tomorrow. It would be important for us to be able to dedicate a victory to him."