Mourinho: I would love to play Barça with 11 men

He ordered the groundstaff to let the grass grow a few centimetres longer and not water the pitch before kick-off; he left his most talented player, Mesut Özil, on the bench; and he gave central defender Pepe a roaming search-and-destroy role in midfield. But Jose Mourinho could not deliver the Real Madrid victory that would upset Barcelona's progress towards a third successive La Liga title.

After the 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Saturday attention now turns to Wednesday's Spanish Cup final and the two Champions League semi-finals that will decide which Spanish side reaches the final at Wembley next month. With Barça still eight points ahead of their big rivals in the table and just six league games left Real must win one of those battles to not finish the season without a trophy.

"Just once I would like to play them 11 against 11" said Mourinho after he watched one of his sides go down to 10 men against Barcelona for the fifth time in his career.

The Copa del Rey climax in Valencia threatens to be as testing for the referee as for both sides after Saturday's bruising battle. There were seven bookings and Raul Albiol joined Asier del Horno, Didier Drogba, Thiago Motta and Sergio Ramos as players who have not lasted 90 minutes for Mourinho against Barça. "I am tired of playing them with 10," he added. "My players know that in every team talk we have to discuss playing with one player less."

This time the complaint was not so much that Albiol did not deserve to be sent off in the 53rd minute for hauling down David Villa inside the penalty area but that when Dani Alves was adjudged to have fouled Marcelo for Real's penalty with eight minutes to go the referee did not show Alves what would have been his second yellow card. "The fourth official told me it was because he is a full-back not centre-back. What does that mean?" huffed Mourinho.

The two penalties gave Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo the opportunities to break important scoring ducks – it was Messi's first goal against a Mourinho side in his 10th encounter with the Portuguese coach and Ronaldo's first against Barcelona in his seventh game with them.

It was suggested by one Spanish newspaper in midweek that Messi is referred to as "the dwarf" in the Real Madrid dressing room such is the antipathy to his annoying domination of the goal-scoring and goal-assist tables in all competitions.

On Saturday the Argentine was subdued by Real's organised aggression for the most part of Saturday night's match but his penalty was his 49th goal in all competitions this season and it seemed he was going to be one step ahead of his main Madrid rival once again.

Ronaldo however, was just as lethal from the spot when his chance came, scoring his 41st goal of the campaign. The two men will almost certainly top 100 goals between them before the season ends. "Every team has the right to have the pitch the way they want it in their own stadium," said the Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola afterwards when asked if he thought the ball held up at times in the longer grass.

"I did not expect Madrid to be so defensive," added midfielder Xavi. "They closed up at the back and played a very direct football."

It was a very different Real Madrid to the side that faced Barcelona in the league last November. Mourinho will make the point that a more open approach saw his side thrashed 5-0 in the Nou Camp. A draw will feel like a step in the right direction even if the league is now gone – there are still two competitions to be won.

"Wednesday will be different," Mourinho said. "It's a one-off game. One team will go home with the cup and one team will go home with nothing."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map