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)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
books
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.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot