Mourinho seeks first victory in heat of the Nou Camp cauldron

Real coach in for hostile reception at former club in tonight's much-anticipated El Clasico

Some Barcelona fans started a campaign last week proposing Jose Mourinho be given the silent treatment tonight at the Nou Camp. Knowing that nothing would upset him more than to be completely ignored when he went for his pre-clasico stroll on the pitch the supporters set up their own online initiative called "100,000 silences for Mourinho" ... just 85 people signed up.



The other 99,915 said: "Nice idea, but if it's all the same we'd rather scream our lungs out as soon as he takes to the field."

The last time Barça's public enemy No 1 was at the Nou Camp, celebrating Internazionale's qualification for the Champions League final last season, he was given an impromptu shower by the pitch sprinklers and almost wrestled to the ground by Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes. No-one at Barcelona was able to stomach his post-match celebrations.

Last night Mourinho and his players were greeted by over a 1500 Madrid exiles at Barcelona's El Prat Airport but inside the stadium there will be only a handful of visiting fans and home supporters have promised him a welcome to match the one Luis Figo was given in 2002. Although having defected to the Casa Blanca in less treacherous circumstances, more moderate Barça fans are suggesting he is not worthy of another pig's head.

They also point out that, despite giving his former club a torrid time in Europe, Mourinho has never actually won a match at the Nou Camp. Inter went through there last season but the game finished 1-0 to Barcelona.

This is different. This is a Clasico and Mourinho's rival, Pep Guardiola – the man he was brought in to dethrone – is on one hell of a roll. Aside from having won eight of the 10 competitions he has contested since taking over as Barcelona first-team coach 18 months ago, Guardiola has won four straight Clasicos.

His first confrontation with Real Madrid ended in a 2-0 home win in 2008 and later that season his side inflicted a humiliating 6-2 thumping at the Bernabeu.

Last season, a Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal gave Barcelona victory in the first game at home and in the return fixture Barça again ran out 2-0 winners in Madrid. The striking thing about the record is that the victories have been more easily won away from home.

"It is true that it has been more difficult at home than at the Bernabeu. Anxiety is a bad thing," defender Carles Puyol said. Those added nerves at home will be something Mourinho will be looking to make the most of.

Real are a point clear of Barcelona in La Liga after 12 games and a draw would in no way be a bad result, although Real captain Iker Casillas has made it clear that will not be the game plan. "We don't want to talk about a draw because we believe we can go there and get the victory," he said.

That confidence comes from not having tasted defeat in any competition so far this season and Casillas, who has let in only six goals, will, along with each of his team-mates, receive a piece of paper with one final Clasico thought on it ahead of tonight's game.

It is a Mourinho tactic that was used to great effect in the Madrid derby that Real won 2-0 earlier this month. The inspiration he passes to his talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, will perhaps touch on how La Liga's top scorer came to finally get the better of Barça defenders Gerard Pique and Puyol in Portugal's 4-0 win over Spain recently. Ronaldo has never scored against Pique and Puyol in five La Liga games but he terrorised them during the friendly in Lisbon.

Guardiola has, in the past, preferred inspirational film clips before big matches. He famously had his players watch a montage of the best moments from Gladiator before the Champions League final win over Manchester United in 2009. However, such has been the hype around this fixture that both coaches have tried to play down its importance.

"It is as if the world will end after the game", Guardiola said recently and Mourinho has called the match "just another game" with his players repeating the phrase as if it were a mantra.

But the brutal domination of Barcelona and Real over the rest of the league – the pair finished respectively 28 and 25 points clear of third place last season – means this is anything but just another fixture. The two matches between Guardiola and Mourinho's sides will decide the title.

Both coaches are unlikely to make changes to their now familiar first XIs. The Real coach has been tempted to introduce Lassana Diarra to toughen up his midfield, but will ultimately stay with just Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira behind Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain.

Guardiola has also flirted with the idea of bolstering his engine room by recalling Seydou Keita but the problem of who to leave out will mean he continues with five of Spain's World Cup-winning squad: Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro and David Villa, joined by Lionel Messi, in attack.Just as Ronaldo has never scored against Pique and Puyol, so Messi has never hit the back of the net against Mourinho. But he has never been in better form to break that duck, scoring 67 goals in his past 67 matches.

The Argentine striker has hit seven goals in eight Clasicos and will come up against a former Chelsea foe, Ricardo Carvalho, the player described by Real Madrid's sporting director Jorge Valdano last week as "still having the body of a teenager". Valdano admitted being surprised that the Portuguese defender's wise head still sits atop a fully-fit footballer's body and the 32-year-old has been outstanding this season. His duel with Messi, like Pique's with Ronaldo, will be crucial but it is the dugout face-off that fascinates more than any other.

Yesterday, Guardiola and Mourinho were playing press conference chess, both clubs cagily trying to schedule their final media appearances after the other. Guardiola came out on top with an 8pm showing. Mourinho will content himself with making sure his team has the last word tonight.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
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.

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game