When Jose Mourinho was appointed as the head coach of Real Madrid by Florentino Perez in the summer of 2010, the Bernabeu faithful wanted him to win them the coveted trophy which they craved for so long. They were much believed that this would happen given that 'The Special One' had just won the Holy Grail on their home turf for Inter Milan.
Following their ninth Champions League triumph in 2002, the Los Blancos had failed to get past the round of 16 in the continent except once. No, it wasn’t a case of having a poor squad as this period also had the famous Galacticos era. But their performances in Europe never really hit highs and the frustration at the Spanish capital was evident.
‘La Decima’ is an obsession which would make Madrid the first ever club to have won ten Champions League trophies and establish their legacy.
And the appointment of Mourinho seemed perfect. He had won two Champions League titles against the odds with Porto and Inter Milan defeating clubs labelled as favourites along the way. Here was a coach who defied the general tradition, who was shrewd and precise in what he wanted and delivered them for each of the clubs he went.
|Mourinho won the Champions League with Inter in 2010|
Yes, he didn’t win the Champions League for Chelsea and that didn’t go down well for Roman Abramovich, but in 2012, it was his players, the core he formed in his time with the Pensioners, who played a key role in the eventual success.
In his time with Madrid, Mourinho has certainly improved the Los Blancos as they successfully qualified for their third successive semi-final of the Champions League. But on two occasions, they fumbled.
In 2010-11 season, fingers were pointed towards the referee for having shown a red card to Pepe for allegedly catching Dani Alves on the shin in the first leg against Barcelona which killed the tie as a contest. In the return leg at Camp Nou, Gonzalo Higuain’s goal was ruled out for a foul on Javier Mascherano which never was. All Madrid had to show for their efforts at the end of the season was a Copa Del Rey title.
Last season, Madrid did well and had a perfect record until they came up against Bayern Munich. They lost the away leg 2-1 and after leading 2-0 at the Bernabeu, they let in a goal and eventually lost on penalties. Winning the La Liga did however help get over the disappointment in Europe.
Madrid haven’t enjoyed a great run in the Primera Division this time around and it was no secret that they had prioritized winning the Champions League over the Spanish league. You had the likes of Iker Casillas coming out in the open and stating that he wouldn’t mind losing the league title in favour of winning the 10th Champions League.
After coming second best to Borussia Dortmund in the group of death where they were joined by Manchester City and Ajax, they faced the Manchester United challenge. The red card to Nani did turn out to be the key moment which Madrid capitalised on and progressed into the quarterfinals.
|Real Madrid were fortunate to win against Manchester United
Facing a resurgent Galatasaray, who had strengthened over the winter transfer window with the acquisitions of former Mourinho wards in Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba was a tricky tie. Fatih Terim’s side put in a top performance in the second leg but eventually bowed out of the competition thanks a prolific Cristiano Ronaldo who had bailed them often over the course of last four seasons.
The semi-final draw pitted them against Borussia Dortmund who had managed to remain unbeaten against Madrid in the two ties at the group stages. With Alvaro Arbeloa suspended, Michael Essien and Marcelo injured and Angel Di Maria joining the team only on the day of the tie due to personal reasons, Mourinho didn’t have all his personnel available.
Marco Reus, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze kept troubling the Madrid backline with their running and quick movement which never allowed Madrid to settle into the tie. Ilkay Gundogan was Mister Composed in the middle of the park as he orchestrated the proceedings with Sven Bender alongside to break up the play.
Some horrific defending from Pepe and Sergio Ramos didn’t help matters and the midfielders never really provided the key passes for the attackers to capitalise on.
The end result was a 4-1 thrashing at the Signal Iduna Park which shocked everyone, not as much by the scoreline but the manner in which the demolition was executed.
While many have already pronounced an all German final at Wembley, Jose Mourinho, in his post-match address, mentioned that his side are very much capable to overturn the tie with the away goal expected to play an important role in the end.
Mourinho needs to rally his troops and get the best out of them at the Bernabeu if the dream to achieve ‘La Decima’ has to be kept alive.
With the Portuguese being linked with a move away at the end of the season, Mourinho would have failed in his task assigned at Madrid which wouldn’t certainly be a blip in his illustrious CV. It would be back to square one for Madrid as they would only stand a realistic chance to win the Copa Del Rey title.
Madrid will have to put in a special performance next Tuesday and help Mourinho achieve his target of winning the ‘La Decima’ for the club and leave on amicable terms. Mourinho himself would want to be remembered at the Bernabeu in positive light and not someone who took them on the brink of winning the 10thtitle but fell short of.
A lot to look forward to from the second leg and it is definitely not over as yet.
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