Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has backed his former club Chelsea to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Deprived of a meeting with Chelsea after seeing Madrid fall to a penalty shootout defeat to Bayern in Wednesday’s semi-final, he was clear about who he hoped would win.
“Chelsea mean a lot in my life and I would like them to win the final,’’ said Mourinho.
“John Terry is missing, but Chelsea is there, which is the most important thing. But I just hope it’s a good final. Of course I want the Blues to win, but with all respect for the Reds. I think Chelsea boys were heroes yesterday, absolute heroes against Barcelona.
“I know some people think they Barcelona are the masters of the game and will criticise Chelsea like they criticised Inter two years ago, but they know nothing about character, about effort, about a team with 10 men resisting tactically, physically everything. That’s why I have in mind the heroes of Inter and the heroes of Chelsea in this match. Chelsea deserves to be there.”
The nine-times European champions had been convinced they were going to reach the final, buoyed by their 2-1 La Liga win at Barcelona on Saturday, and by their arch-rivals’ shock defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday.
With the league title all but in the bag, seven points clear with four left to play, Mourinho in only his second season at the helm looked like he had it within his grasp to also steal Barca’s European crown too.
“There was no luck,” Mourinho said with a resigned smile.
“It’s difficult to reach two semis in two years and not make the final. We deserved to win.
“I remember a Champions League semi-final against Liverpool which was exactly the same where we had to play a game to compete in another championship before, and they didn’t have that pressure, and we lost.
“It was the same here. We played with everyone on the weekend and our opponents didn’t.
“Apart from freshness, the team played great though. These players aren’t supermen that are just a film. The players went to their very limits,” he added after having knelt on the touchline as if he was praying while he watched his players take penalties.
“Barca played a derby and two days later they were knocked out. It isn’t easy. That’s why you have to really value teams who win doubles or trebles.”
Mourinho seemed to end the speculation that he might leave Madrid at the end of the campaign, when asked about his future, even though he still has two years left on his four-year deal at the Bernabeu.
“If we continue with this empathy, this club and this team has margin to improve and grow,” the Portuguese said.
“If the club and the players think I and they can keep bringing something to this. I will continue.”