Real's resurgence puts Mourinho in control

After a brief period of vulnerability, Madrid coach's name is ringing round Europe again

Minus 10 on the pitch; plus 10 in the league – Jose Mourinho would have settled for that in December, when after another Barcelona beating he had been left looking uncharacteristically vulnerable.

Ahead of tonight's sub-zero Champions League first-leg first round knockout encounter with CSKA Moscow, the man who made his Champions League debut 10 years ago this week has everything and everyone right back where he wants them once again.

In Spain, Barcelona are trailing in the distance and their manager, Pep Guardiola, is unsure of his future. Sledgehammer-subtle smoke signals to the Premier League have helped cast Mourinho's shadow over the hot seats at Manchester City and Chelsea. And in Madrid, directors and players are lining up to say they hope he stays.

After the weekend victory over Racing Santander, Mourinho was asked how he felt about his name being sung in three stadiums over the same weekend, with supporters in San Siro, Stamford Bridge and the Bernabeu all ringing out the same chorus.

"I have a lot of feelings for those two clubs [Internazionale and Chelsea] but in the past. It was a good past and it is good that people remember but they have to support the people who are there now," he said. No need to twist the knife on Andre Villas Boas – his posturing for the job has significantly weakened his former back-room staffer's position.

What all the perfect political maneuvering, not to mention scintillating league form, now needs is a convincing disposal of CSKA to send Mourinho into the quarter-finals of a competition that has been his stage for a decade now.

It was in February 2002 that, three weeks into the Porto job, he led them at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid. He was lifting the trophy two years later with the Portuguese club, before moving straight to London for the "nearly years" with Chelsea and then on to Inter, where he won the trophy a second time before again making the final his last match before leaving a club.

He was asked about that pattern of walking out on a Champions League winner, ahead of tonight's game in the Luzhniki Stadium. "I don't leave clubs just because I have won the Champions League," he said. "I left Porto because I thought it was time to move on and I had already decided to leave Inter before we reached the final."

Real arrived in Moscow at 11.30 local time on Sunday night, an extra day before kick-off, in an attempt to help acclimatise. Mourinho was last night playing down the extent to which the extra time might help his side combat the conditions.

He said: "We have to be stronger than the conditions. A synthetic surface is not the same as a natural surface and -15C is not the same as 10C. We have not been able to adapt to the conditions in such a short time but our mentality is strong. We have to get the win or even a draw, even a scoreless draw, because what counts is not the result but going through over the two legs. They are a difficult side to play against. They are tactically very strong and perfectly adapted to the conditions and the playing surface."

Real Madrid have left an injured pair, midfielder Lassana Diarra and winger Angel Di Maria, in Spain but are otherwise at full strength. And their manager knows what it is like to beat CSKA. His Chelsea beat them twice in 2004-05 and his Inter side knocked them out in 2009-10, en route to winning the final – a nod to destiny, not lost on Real fans hoping for their club's 10th European Cup success.

CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid kicks off at 5pm today (Sky Sports 2)

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
film
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.

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style