Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho admits he expects to be a "persona non grata" at the Nou Camp on Monday when his in-form side take on Barcelona in El Clasico.
Mourinho, whose team go into the match with a one-point lead over second-placed Barça at the top of La Liga, was once on the coaching staff at the Catalan giants but he believes events last season will assure him of a heated reception from the home fans next week.
With the 2010 Champions League final at the Bernabeu, Barcelona would have relished the chance to be able to defend the title they had won 12 months previously at the home of their arch-rivals Madrid. However, having got to the semi-finals and seen Madrid knocked out at the last 16 stage, Barça's dreams were ended by the eventual winners Internazionale – with Mourinho the man in charge of the Italian side.
In the first leg at San Siro, Inter stunned Barça with a 3-1 win and that was enough to put them through to the final despite losing the second leg 1-0 at the Nou Camp, following a backs-to-the-wall performance with 10 men.
During that match in Spain Mourinho was jeered by the home crowd, some of whom disparagingly refer to the Portuguese as "the translator" – that being the role he held alongside Bobby Robson at the Nou Camp in the 1990s, before working as a coach under Louis van Gaal for three seasons.
Mourinho, who also crossed swords with Barcelona while in charge at Chelsea, admitted at the time that he could never coach the Catalans because of the hatred of the fans towards him.
"The fans in the Nou Camp will never forgive me for denying them the opportunity to win the Champions League at the Santiago Bernabeu," said Mourinho. "I'm a persona non grata, so I'll get a hostile reception. That's just football. I beat them with Chelsea, then with Inter and now I'm coaching their fiercest rivals, Real Madrid. That's too many things in quick succession. The past [Mourinho's history at Barça] doesn't matter, it's what's happened recently that counts. That's the way football works."
Last season the matches between the two Spanish superpowers were crucial, with Barça beating Real twice en route to finishing three points clear of their rivals at the top of the table, and all signs point to it being another two-horse race this season.
Mourinho, who has yet to suffer defeat in any competition as Madrid coach, said: "But I'm going there [Nou Camp] to play a football match and that's that. It's like I always say: if we win on Monday then it'll be Tuesday the next day. And if we lose on Monday then it'll still be Tuesday the next day."Reuse content