Over to you Jose. Barcelona’s epic collapse in Munich has dangled before the great Mourinho an unexpected opportunity to lord it over Real Madrid’s bitter rivals and reclaim the high ground of football management.
Madrid, utterly eclipsed in La Liga by the Catalan artistes, visit Borussia Dortmund tonight in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. Despite the obvious strengths of Bayern Munich, none expected a 4-0 rout delivered so thrillingly at the Allianz Arena. Outwardly Mourinho will distance himself from the frenzy proclaiming the death of tiki-taka, maintaining that his focus is only on the next match. What Barcelona do is no concern of mine, etc.
Inwardly the idea of Madrid progressing while Barca do not will give him immense satisfaction, not to mention simplify the challenge should his team progress. Bayern’s downing of Barca was remarkable given the domination of the ball by the visiting team and emulated the tactical template adopted by Mourinho when Inter Milan beat them at the same stage three years ago.
The strangling of Leo Messi was central to both outcomes, based on disciplined defensive organisation and rapid-breaking deployment. Bayern, like Inter, were content to surrender possession until Barca advanced towards goal, at which point they closed like a Venus fly trap around Messi.
Nothing is won, or lost yet. Barca are allowed an off-night, if 65 per cent possession on foreign turf and double the number of passes can be termed such. With Messi shackled Barcelona failed to trouble Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal and were shredded at the back when Bayern broke. Scoring four at home is not beyond Barcelona but keeping a clean sheet might be.
Madrid still have to subjugate a Dortmund team that has already beaten them at home and led with a minute to go at the Bernabeu in this season’s group stage. Mourinho’s future at Madrid is uncertain. He was employed to deliver this trophy at the Bernabeu. Barca’s temporary demise enhances his chances. Maybe fate is deciding for him. The Nani red card and now this. Or maybe the rise of German club football will engulf him, too. If not tonight then at Wembley.
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