at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Jose Mourinho rifled through his list of Champions League semi-final disappointments on Tuesday – against Liverpool twice as Chelsea manager, Barcelona last year – but even with this cultivated paranoia, Real Madrid still transmit sincere belief that there will be no Spanish dismay at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
“The team’s moment has arrived,” said Cristiano Ronaldo. “It’s a big game and we’re going to win it.”
After losing 2-1 in Germany last Tuesday, Real must win if they are to advance to their first European Cup final since Glasgow in 2002, the night Zinedine Zidane’s stupendous volley saw off – just about – German opposition in Bayer Leverkusen.
An impressive fact about Real Madrid this season is that Bayern’s late victory in Bavaria was the first time Real had lost since January. That was to Barcelona.
The only other team to have beaten Real this season are Levante and that was back in September.
Mourinho has never been accused of diffidence but, after Saturday’s La Liga breakthrough at the Nou Camp, he and the Real squad must be feeling close to invincible.
“We want and deserve to reach the final,” said Mourinho. “My men are calm and we’re in perfect form. We are neither too excited nor too relaxed.”
Mourinho was also asked about the possible managerial vacancy at Chelsea this summer amid ongoing speculation that he will depart Real.
“I think I will continue, there’s no reason for me to leave,” replied Mourinho.
All appears at ease at the Bernabeu at the moment, but it does not take much to start a drama there and Bayern must be beaten if louder questions about Mourinho’s future in Madrid are not to pour forth.
A good omen for Mourinho is that it was at the Bernabeu two years ago his Inter Milan team defeated Munich 2-0 in the final.
Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holger Badstuber and Thomas Muller are the only Bayern survivors who featured in the first leg last week.
Schweinsteiger is the only one of the quartet not on a booking and one more away from being banned from the final – at Bayern’s Allianz Arena next month.
A total of seven of Jupp Heynckes’ players are in that predicament, while Real’s squad have three in the same position, including former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Schweinsteiger, as confident as Ronaldo, said the German side realise they probably will need to score to go through – “and we will”. – Daily Mail