Jose Mourinho will stay on as coach of Real Madrid next season, according to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward said so yesterday, amid reports that Mourinho, the self-styled "Special One", was poised to return to Chelsea.
As Real prepared for tonight's Champions League round-of-16 second leg against CSKA Moscow at the Bernabeu, Mourinho and Ronaldo appeared at a news conference.
"He is going to continue," said Ronaldo, who scored Real's goal in last month's 1-1 first-leg draw in Russia. "He is going to continue with us."
Mourinho responded with a terse "no" when he was asked if his future depended on Real winning the Champions League. The La Liga leaders are chasing a 10th European crown, which would be their first since 2002.
Responding to a question about tonight's game, Mourinho said: "If my future depends on the result of this tie? No. Unless the club decides to fire me, but I do not base my decisions on winning or losing one match."
The most successful manager in Chelsea's history, Mourinho left in 2007 after falling out with the club's owner, Roman Abramovich. He is hugely popular with the Premier League side's fans but he has two years to run on a four-year contract with Real, with whom he has won the Spanish Cup since joining from Internazionale in 2010.
Mourinho and Ronaldo were asked about Lionel Messi's display against Bayer Leverkusen last week, when Barcelona's Argentinian world player of the year became the first player to score five times in a Champions League match.
"Very good, happy for him and for football," said Ronaldo, who was the 2008 recipient of the world award that Messi has now won three times in a row. "I don't know if I would be able to do it [score five times] but I hope I can."
Ronaldo has scored 32 goals in La Liga this season, two more than Messi, and 40 in all competitions. The Barcelona forward, however, has scored 50 times altogether.
"I don't care what the others do. I just focus on myself and my team," Ronaldo said. "If I score, good, if not it doesn't matter. I am relaxed about it."
Mourinho said of Messi: "Scoring five goals is never easy in any competition. It was a very good night for him."
Looking to reach a second straight Champions League quarter-final, Real hold an away-goal advantage following the first-leg draw. They have won 17 of 19 games at the Bernabeu this season – the other two matches produced defeats by Barcelona. Mourinho's team have outscored their opponents 74-17 at home and the Portuguese coach has helped erase a run that saw Madrid fail to emerge from the European last 16 in every season from 2005 until a semi-final appearance last year.
CSKA scored a stoppage-time equaliser to deny Madrid a win in Moscow, and the Russian club have caused Spanish teams problems before – they beat Barcelona, then the defending champions, in the second round in 1993, with a victory at the Nou Camp after a 1-1 draw in Moscow.
"CSKA created a lot of problems for us in Moscow," said the Madrid midfielder Kaka. "We have to be attentive because they can cause us trouble. These are always difficult games."
Madrid have lost once in nine fixtures against Russian opponents – Spartak Moscow's victory in 1991 was the last time Real were knocked out of Europe after a first-leg draw away.
Madrid will be without the injured forward Angel di Maria, but the France striker Karim Benzema returned from an injury picked up in Moscow to play in Saturday's 3-2 win over Real Betis. Hamit Altintop will miss the match and Fabio Coentrao has missed two games with injury.
While Messi is scoring goals at a record-defying rate, Ronaldo is not far behind. He has scored in six straight games – a total of eight goals – to keep Madrid on course to set a new record for league goals in a season.
CSKA are winless in five Russian league matches, after salvaging a 1-1 draw against Dynamo Moscow at the weekend.
The midfielder Pavel Mamaev and defender Kirill Nababkin return from suspension to face Real but the midfielder Alan Dzagoev is suspended. The Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda is expected to be available despite a thigh injury but Igor Akinfeev and Mark Gonzalez remain sidelined.
CSKA have lost just two of their last 23 away games in all competitions, winning 10. A draw will suffice for them if they score two goals or more.