Real Madrid can call on history against Borussia Dortmund
Jose Mourinho says tonight's mission impossible is Madrid's biggest match for ten years
REAL MADRID embark on mission impossible tonight as they try to overturn a 4-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League semi final, and Europe's press corps eagerly assembled in the Spanish capital to hear Jose Mourinho assess his side's chances of coming back from the dead.
The ever-quotable Mourinho insisted his future did not depend upon the result and that he still had another ten years to win his third Champions League, whether he's with the Spanish club or not.
Mourinho was asked about press reports linking Carlo Ancelotti with his job, which he dismissed as something to ask Madrid and Ancelotti, and insisted he was present to talk about tonight’s game. And he is under no illusions about its significance.
"I feel that this could be the most important match for Real Madrid in the last ten years,” said Mourinho. "But I felt the same thing before we played in Dortmund and we played there as if it was a friendly."
Madrid need to come back from a 4-1 first leg deficit but they have done it before. The Independent enrolled former Derby County midfielder Archie Gemmill to recall the 5-1 thrashing his team received in the Bernabeu in 1975 having led by the same margin as Dortmund after the first leg at the Baseball Ground.
A legendary 1986 Uefa Cup turnaround is the first of a series of famous Madrid remontadas (comebacks) catalogued by The Guardian. It came against Inter Milan after the Italians triumphed 3-1 in the first leg, but were thrashed 4-1 at the Bernabeu. To make it even more special the victory had been foretold by Madrid's striker Juanito, whose death in a car crash in 1992, has only increased his legend.
But there have been other examples too: Madrid beat Anderlecht 6-1 after a 3-0 first-leg defeat in 1984, and in 1985 they beat Inter 3-0, having lost the first leg 2-0, and then repeated the trick against Borussia Mönchengladbach, winning the second leg 4-0, after a 5-1 defeat.
Former German captain Franz Beckenbauer has warned that Spain's other wounded giant, Barcelona, could use "illicit means" to get back into their tie against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. It was a comment that Mourinho jumped on and twisted to his own ends with typical hand-wringing relish.
"I read someone say there are teams who use licit ways and illicit ways of winning," Mourinho began. "I spoke about similar things two years ago and the world came crashing down on top of me. My team only does licit things. We're so pure, so innocent, so naive that [Robert] Lewandowski scored four and we didn't commit a single foul on him. We have to try to win the game. I want intensity and aggression."
Asked to clarify that point, Mourinho said: "In five minutes [Cristiano] Ronaldo has [normally] been fouled four times. I'm not saying I want to foul him but I want concentration, intensity, aggression."
Madrid will need all that and more to get past Dortmund. After losing 2-1 in this year's group stages in Dortmund, they could only draw 2-2 in the return at the Bernebeu. Those results prompted Mourinho to label Dortmund as one of the favourites for the tournament. It is a tag they retain as they attempt to reach the final for the first time since winning the trophy in 1997.