Mourinho must banish Real Madrid's clasico complex


Overcoming Real Madrid's mental block against Barcelona will be the chief concern for coach Jose Mourinho when the teams resume their battle for supremacy tomorrow.

Real host their arch-rivals for a King's Cup quarter-final first leg having won 22 of their last 23 matches in all competitions, the one defeat being a 3-1 La Liga reverse at Barcelona's hands at the Bernabeu six weeks ago.

Mourinho has managed only one victory over Barcelona in eight attempts since taking the job two years ago, when Cristiano Ronaldo nodded home an extra-time winner in a 1-0 triumph in last season's King's Cup final.

Four defeats and three draws across four competitions make up the rest of the story between the two rivals but the coach goes into tomorrow's tie holding a five-point La Liga lead over the champions.

Mourinho has made it clear the league is this season's priority and he would be able to write off a King's Cup slip-up as irrelevant. However, the psychological impact of the clasico tussles could play a big role in each team's campaign.

"You'll have to ask the Madrid players if we have eaten into their morale," Barcelona's midfielder Xavi told a news conference yesterday. Winning or losing will have a big effect on a team's state of mind. The winner will receive a huge confidence boost."

Spanish international Xavi responded to questions about Ronaldo, who has gone off the boil in recent games and been whistled at disapprovingly by some sectors of the Bernabeu crowd since his below-par showing in last month's clasico.

The comparisons with Lionel Messi, crowned World Player of the Year for the third time last week, appear to weigh heavily on the Portuguese forward, who has scored three times in 10 clasicos compared to the Argentine's seven strikes over the same period.

"Messi always makes the difference," Xavi said. "The Bernabeu seems to be to his liking. He always rises to the occasion and we expect him to do the same again.

"Ronaldo, like all strikers, goes through runs of form. Sometimes the ball goes in, other times it doesn't, but it is clear he is capable of making the difference."

Ronaldo is La Liga's leading scorer, with an impressive 21 goals, but his anxious performances against Barcelona and a tense relationship with some of Real's fans mean the world's most expensive player will once again be the focus of attention.

"I have a routine before matches, like most players," Ronaldo told DT magazine. "I try to laugh, crack a few jokes, listen to house music.

"I don't put myself under pressure. If you do this, things go badly. I am this way whether I am preparing to play Barcelona or any other team. My mental strength is very important."

Mourinho has a doubt over the defender Pepe, who missed training on Monday with a bruised thigh, but Angel Di Maria is expected to return to the squad and could feature.

The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, is without the injured David Villa, Ibrahim Afellay and Pedro, while Seydou Keita is away at the African Cup of Nations.

Tonight third-tier Mirandes, who have knocked out the La Liga sides Villarreal and Racing Santander so far, visit Espanyol. The 23-times King's Cup winners Athletic Bilbao are at home to 2003 winners Real Mallorca tomorrow and the final first leg will be a Valencia city derby played on Thursday. Levante, one of the revelations of the league season, are fourth just behind their neighbours Valencia and will make a visit to the Mestalla.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform