Jose Mourinho claims Real Madrid are not favorites in the Champions League
Real Madrid might have got the last minnow in the Champions League, but that hasn’t stopped them from preparing for a full invasion. Jose Mourinho trained Real Madrid ahead of the Galatasaray clash on Wednesday in hopes of maintaining his team’s momentum.
After knocking-out Manchester United from the competition, Real Madrid look destined to enter semifinals of Champions League once again. The first-leg of their Champions League battles against Galatasaray will take place at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, which means Real Madrid have an additional advantage over their Turkish opponents.
Bayern Munich eliminated Real Madrid on penalties in the Champions League semifinals last year. Jose Mourinho believes his team is capable of acquiring better results this season. Nonetheless, the former Chelsea manager insists his team needs to increase their form.
“Last year we played a great competition, and lost the semi-finals on penalties, so there was not much to improve,” Jose Mourinho said. “I do not see the team as better or worse than last year, but we have played the most difficult group stages and then knocked out one of the biggest candidates to win the competition [Manchester United] in the last 16. We are arriving at this point with all our players available. Now we will see if we can keep that going.”
Real Madrid’s injury crisis slowly fades away with Xabi Alonso, Rafael Varane and Fabio Coentrao being given the green light for action. Jose Mourinho won’t think twice before bringing all three players back to his first-team, but the Portuguese will have trouble in choosing between Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema; since both strikers are in their best form as of late.
“The most important thing is that we score enough goals to go through,” Jose Mourinho said. “It does not matter who scores them. Everybody knows the quality of our two 'nines'. Because of their quality, people have high expectations of them. Against United, Higuain did not score but he played a great game. I never pressure my forwards to score - I just want them to work well for the team.”
Jose Mourinho refused to admit Real Madrid were hot-favorites to progress from the quarterfinal battle with Galatasaray. The Bernabeu boss explained that playing in the Champions League had shown him that all teams in the last eight were capable of progressing in the competition.
“I have reached this stage of the competition with Chelsea among the favorites and we did not win,” Jose Mourinho said. “When I got to this stage with Porto and with Inter, neither team was favorites and they won. Any team that has come through to the last eight will be high on confidence and motivation, so I do not like to talk about favorites.”