It took him nine attempts
but Jose Mourinho finally got to taste sweet victory as a
visiting coach at Barcelona's Camp Nou on Saturday when his Real
Madrid side snatched a dramatic 2-1 success in the lair of their
The colourful Portuguese, who again declined to speak to the
media after the game, had compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo to thank
for netting the 73rd-minute winner on a rain-lashed night in the
Catalan capital as Real moved seven points clear in La Liga with
four games left.
Club president Florentino Perez hired Mourinho to end
Barca's Spanish and European domination and there was a sense
after Saturday's result that a shift in the balance of power
between the two world powerhouses could be imminent.
Real have to overturn a 2-1 deficit at home to Bayern Munich
on Wednesday if they are to reach next month's Champions League
final and if holders Barca can get past Chelsea, who beat them
1-0 in London this week, they will face a swaggering Real side
filled with new confidence in another mouthwatering 'Clasico'.
The former Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan manager got his
tactics spot on in Saturday's La Liga clash, comprehensively
outwitting Pep Guardiola for only the second time in 10 meetings
in all competitions since he arrived from Italy two years ago.
Guardiola's decision to start with inexperienced B-team
winger Cristian Tello backfired and he waited too long before
bringing Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro off the bench.
Mourinho appeared to have learned a lesson from his former
club Chelsea, who managed to contain a dominant Barca in much
the same way in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first
leg at Stamford Bridge.
After snatching an early lead through Sami Khedira, his
battling troops repelled wave after wave of largely toothless
Barca attacks and the home side's scrappy equaliser from Sanchez
served merely to set the stage for Ronaldo's breathtaking
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi was kept quiet for a
second consecutive game - a worrying scoring drought by his
unrivalled standards - as the Real players matched their Chelsea
counterparts with expertly-timed tackles, controlled aggression
and old-fashioned grit.
Guardiola threw the 20-year-old Tello into his first
'Clasico' and although he showed off his blistering pace on
several occasions he wasted one of Barca's best chances by
firing wildly over the bar from a good position.
Fabregas replaced him in the 80th minute but had few
opportunities to demonstrate the creativity and goal-scoring
prowess that prompted Barca to spend 40 million euros to lure him back from Arsenal in the close-season.
Sanchez, who was carrying a knock from Wednesday's Champions
League game, looked Barca's most dangerous player when he came
on for Xavi and he had only been on the pitch for around a
minute when he made it 1-1.
Asked about his formation at his post-match news conference,
Guardiola said he did not believe Barca had been outplayed and
he had no reason to reproach his team.
"They looked for their chances and we opened up the pitch
very well," the former Barca and Spain midfielder said.
"Our team operates in tight spaces and sometimes it's
tough," he added.
"It's a shame to have failed at a key moment, it leaves a
bad taste behind for everyone, but they did not spare any
effort. It's never easy playing Madrid, who are very physical."
Guardiola now faces the task of lifting his players for
Tuesday's Champions League second leg at home to Chelsea as the
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