Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughMan or mouse, Mourinho could make this season a Special one. - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Man or mouse, Mourinho could make this season a Special one. - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Man or mouse, Mourinho could make this season a Special one.

The word of Alfredo Di Stefano is not to be ridiculed amongst the followers of Real Madrid.

The great Argentinean born-Spaniard is a man held in the highest of regard by those residing in Spain’s capital, having scored 216 goals in 282 league matches for Madrid between 1953 and 1964.

Yet, one man currently at the Bernabeu is proving a tough act to undermine despite Di Stefano’s best efforts.

Upon seeing his side concede over 70% of the possession to Barcelona as the two El Clasico giants fought out a 1-1 draw ten days ago, a result that all but certainly handed the La Liga title to Pep Guardiola’s Catalans, Di Stefano was bullish over his Real’s performance.

“Barcelona were a lion, Madrid a mouse” the 84 year-old declared, stating their lack of ambition was like the high pitched shriek of a rodent rather than the full-blooded roar of the king of the jungle.

To have less than 30% possession in a game is simply anti-Madrid. To sit ten men behind the ball and only look for goals on the counter attack, unheard of for the team that coined the phrase “Galacticos”.

At Real, managers have won titles and yet, been mercilessly removed just hours later, their brand of football deemed unsatisfactory. Fabio Capello’s dismissal after Madrid’s 2007 league triumph immediately springs to mind.

So what makes the current man at the helm of Real’s trophy hunt so special?

Well the proof is in the name.

Jose Mourinho, or The Special One to you, is not like other managers. Those others would have been long gone by now, the supporters calling for their proverbial head after another season disappears without a championship secured.

Not many would get away with setting up so rigidly against their biggest rivals. Lots of figures called for Madrid to hurt Barca and make them pay for the 5-0 massacre they inflicted on Real earlier in the season.

In fact, Di Stefano was joined by now England boss Capello in his notion that attack was the best form of defence.

Mourinho however was not so sure, and he had every right not to be. After all, this is Barcelona we’re talking about. League champions for the last two years and despite losing their Champions League crown last year (to Mourinho’s Inter) they are still seen as the best team in the world.

The Catalans are the unrivalled masters of today’s brand of total football and if you want to play them at their own game, feel free, but as Mourinho found out to his detriment, 5-0 score-lines are often the punishment.

So this time around, The Special One did what he does best, venturing into the mind games and constant media charade he has become so renowned for. Before the league match he announced he would be under silent until after the game was finished, sending his assistant coach Aitor Karanka to face the media. Some journalists walked out, stating they didn’t want a substitute.

Playing straight into Mourinho’s hands, the spotlight was taken off his players and shone directly into his eyes. As a result more excuses are created for his team to ally against the world. If they don’t want to hear what Karanka has got to say, why should we bother talking? Day by day, Mourinho makes it more apparent that everyone is up against him and his team. Now maybe that idea is rubbing off on his players too.

Following the 1-1 draw, with both goals coming from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo spot-kicks, Mourinho bemoaned the official’s decision not to send off Daniel Alves who was already cautioned before fouling Marcelo for Ronaldo’s penalty. Real centre-back Raul Albiol had already seen red for hauling down David Villa as he entered the penalty area.

Again all that was lacking from Mourinho’s cries to the media was a violin as continued to insinuate that his side are being hard done by, with seemingly everyone against Madrid. Yet, if the players start to believe it, that it’s only them who can stop these perceived conspiracies that seek to stop them, then team unity will be stronger than ever. Crucial at a time when these four El Clasico games in eighteen days will make or break both Real’s and Mourinho’s season.

Round two of this heavyweight bout came last Wednesday, Barcelona having landed most of the jabs in round one, yet the heavy punches from Madrid meant they were level on points going into the Copa Del Ray final.

More kidology from Mourinho, with Guardiola expecting to face a brick wall of defenders, the Portuguese lined up with more attacking intent, but still kept centre-back Pepe in front-of the back four.

What followed was Barcelona failing to score for just the second time all season and Real winning their first trophy in three years with a 1-0 victory, Ronaldo’s bullet header in extra-time putting Madrid one-up in this season defining mini-series.

Di Stefano may have questioned Mourinho’s lack of adventure, but surely trophies in the cabinet are all that matters.

With two down and two to go, they don’t come bigger than the Champions League. Real win this semi-final and it’s a trip to Wembley for a date with destiny for either Mourinho, up against the old enemy Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester United, or Madrid itself, up against the club’s prodigal son Raul with Schalke. Either way, if Real repeat the first two score-lines over the past two weeks, they’ll be there.

More questions are sure to be raised over Mourinho’s approach. After all, surely it’s not just coincidence that in the last six meetings between Mourinho’s various teams and Barca, the Special One hasn’t seen his side finish the game with eleven men, with three of those red cards coming in incidents involving the world’s best player, Messi.

Still though, the Madrid faithful remain fully supportive of Mourinho. It seems they too realise that to beat Barca, you need to dig deep, defend inch perfectly and use a wealth of talent on the counter.

Yet with Barca better than ever, it always takes something special to beat them.

And Mourinho is definitely special.

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