The former Real Madrid boss gets an immediate chance to face his old squad with Chelsea in the final game of the ICC tournament.EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jose Mourinho always has a penchant for attracting drama, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that he will be facing Real Madrid only weeks after leaving the club under acrimonious circumstances.
Despite the Guinness International Champions Cup only being a friendly tournament, soccer fans in Miami should expect fireworks when Mourinho's current club Chelsea faces Madrid in the final on Wednesday.
"It's the best [match] for us because we want to play against the best teams," Mourinho said after his side beat Serie A side AC Milan 2-0 in the semifinal. "To play Real is the best thing that could've happened."
Mourinho was allowed to leave Madrid to join Chelsea after a disappointing season where the team failed to win to any silverware aside from the Spanish Super Cup. Just a year after winning La Liga, Mourinho created a locker room divide with the team's Spanish internationals as he publicly clashed with team captain Iker Casillas. While most would expect Mourinho to have a point to prove, he insists that his excitement over facing Madrid isn't personal.
"It's important for our young players, who come from clubs that aren't in our dimension or used to playing in front of big crowds and stadiums," Mourinho explained. "Against big opponents, it's important for guys like Van Ginkel and De Bruyne to see minutes in this kind of situation."
Mourinho also noted in his post-match remarks that his current Chelsea team is very different from the team he had during his first stint with the club.
"My first team at Chelsea was a different team with the age median [being] quite high. We had good players that were in the best moments of their career with a club that was ready and just needed some improvement. A team that was ready to attack each competition and was more about the present than the future," Mourinho stated.
"I feel my job is different because I have a team of very young people and I'm preparing them not just for this year but for the future. This is a project for the future and I'm so pleased to have this experience."
While his squad is young, Mourinho expects the team to be a contender in every competition because of the lofty standards of the club, its ownership and fans. And the game against Real Madrid will be a good indicator of where the team is at with those expectations.
Although Mourinho maintains he's focused on the match solely for preseason preparation, the head coach has already engaged in mind games with his former side. Earlier this week, he called former Brazilian striker Ronaldo the real "Ronaldo," an obvious swipe at Real Madrid's star player Cristiano Ronaldo. In response, Madrid's current Ronaldo told reporters that he's pleased that he has a "very loving person" in Ancelotti which then he added, "It's something very different for us."
Preseason or not, Wednesday's match should be an entertaining one. Wouldn't expect less for Mourinho.