Prior to the second leg of our last Champions League tie, against Paris Saint-Germain, Jose Mourinho explained he would enjoy the evening because of the difficulty but also the simplicity of the challenge with his side 3-1 down from the first leg.
The two-goal deficit was wiped out, and in some style. Demba Ba’s dramatic late winner which sent us through to the semi-final stage will live long in the memory.
This time the second leg will begin all square following the goalless draw in Madrid last week. A night of drama and tension at Stamford Bridge beckons but our manager is again relishing the occasion despite the delicately-poised state of the tie.
‘I think I can still enjoy it,’ Mourinho said. ‘Of course against Paris we were in a position where we had nothing to lose. In this moment it is a clean result, 0-0, and I think the possibility for both is the same.
‘We play at home but a draw with goals is good for them and not good for us. You cannot say which one has the advantage. Everything is very balanced.
‘We have to enjoy it and the players have to be the same. A match is a match but there are some matches that are special matches. The match that every player wants to play is the Champions League final, but after the Champions League final the next match is the second leg of the Champions League semi-final.
‘If we have to play the second leg of the Champions League semi-final we have to enjoy it.
‘After the game let’s see if we go to Lisbon or not. I will go for sure – in the summer! Let’s see if we go together.’
Atletico Madrid’s strengths will come as no surprise to Mourinho, who recently spent three years as manager of their city rivals Real. The Portuguese has no doubt been keeping a close eye on their achievements so far this season from further afield.
Not only have Atletico reached their first European Cup semi-final in 40 years; they are also just two wins away from lifting the La Liga title for the first time since 1996. Our manager offered his assessment of a club that appear to be very much on the rise in both Spanish and European football.
‘They are a good side. They are not a counter-attacking side. They defend well. They score goals. They win matches. They are in the semi-finals of the Champions League and they need two victories to be champions in Spain. It’s fair to say they are a very good team.
‘Atletico was my direct rival for three seasons but I always felt a relation of respect with Mr Gil [the owner of Atletico], the club itself and with the fans.
‘I have respect for what they are doing because to be in the Champions League semi-finals is not for every club. To have the possibility to win the league against Barcelona and Real Madrid is something that deserves my respect.’
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