Jose Mourinho cordial ahead of Barcelona semi-final

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho insists there are no favourites heading into tomorrow's Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola had suggested at the weekend that his side were underdogs going into the match, with in-form Madrid having beaten the Catalan giants 1-0 in last week's Copa del Rey final.

Also, Barca have a defensive headache for tomorrow's game as left-backs Eric Abidal, Adriano and Maxwell are definitely missing, while Carles Puyol and Gabriel Milito have been struggling with injuries recently.

However, Mourinho believes no team can be considered favourites, saying: "For me there are no favourites. It's the Champions League semi-finals - two rival teams who know each other very well. Two teams with long traditions, two teams whose players know what it is to be successful, who know how to win things and play big matches.

"For me there aren't any favourites here. Maybe tomorrow after the match people will say that perhaps one team is slightly ahead of the other, but at the moment before playing the match, my opinion is there are no favourites."

Mourinho also feels that last week's cup final win over Barca will have no bearing on tomorrow's game.

Madrid had failed to win in six previous meetings with Barca and were without a title since 2008, but the capital club brought to an end both of those runs thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's extra-time header.

"We are the same as if we hadn't won the cup," Mourinho said. "It was great to beat them but after the final we were already preparing for the league match against Valencia (at the weekend).

"Each competition is independent of the other and each match has its own story.

"It's the Champions League. We have to give our best without being influenced by what happened before."

Mourinho also said he does not have a "magic potion" to defeat Barca, even though he masterminded Inter Milan's success over the Catalan club in last season's Champions League semi-finals as well as last week's cup victory with Madrid.

He also helped Madrid end a run of five successive defeats against their bitter rivals when they drew 1-1 in the league 10 days ago despite playing almost the entire second half with only 10 men.

"I don't have a magic potion to beat Barcelona. I work very hard and very seriously, and I spend many hours trying to help the people around, but a few months ago we lost 5-0 (at the Nou Camp) and I was the manager then," he said.

"We played a good match (against Barca) at the Bernabeu in the league and we also played a good match in Valencia (6-3 win on Saturday), but tomorrow we are facing a top opponent with a top coach."

However, quoting Albert Einstein, the Portuguese recalled the adage of where there is a will there is a way.

He said: "I told my players there was someone called Albert, Albert Einstein, who said that there is a force more powerful than steam, electricity and atomic energy - will. And this guy Albert was not stupid."

Regarding tomorrow's match, Mourinho admits only after the final whistle will he be able to say whether a draw is a good result.

"It depends on the match. If we play very well and have a lot of goalscoring opportunities and are better than our opponents, and we manage to draw, then I wouldn't be happy about that.

"But if Barca come here and play better, have more goalscoring chances and are nearly about to win the match and they deserve to win the match, and then we get a draw, then perhaps I will be happy then."