x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

'Impossible' for Real Madrid to win at Barcelona, says Jose Mourinho

The coach has a dig at the referee hinting bias towards their rivals at Camp Nou as Madrid lose Copa del Rey quarter-final 4-3 on aggregate.

Barcelona players celebrate as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo looks on in despair.
Barcelona players celebrate as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo looks on in despair.

Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid manager, claimed some of his players believe it is "impossible to win" at Camp Nou after his side's 4-3 aggregate defeat to Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

Madrid had started by far the brighter of the two sides and should have been ahead within seconds as Gonzalo Higuain screwed his shot wide when clean through on Jose Manuel Pinto.

Higuain then hit the bar and was again denied by Pinto before Barca appeared to have put the tie to bed with two goals just before half-time.

Pedro Rodriguez finished calmly at the end of a trademark run and pass by Lionel Messi before Dani Alves rocketed a shot in from the edge of the box with the last kick of the half.

But the visitors responded with two goals in four minutes themselves midway through the second period as Cristiano Ronaldo rounded Pinto to slot home before Karim Benzema took advantage of some slack Barca defending to equalise.

In a thinly-veiled dig at referee Teixeira Vitienes, Mourinho said: "We came here with the intention of going through. We knew it would be difficult, but that is what we came here to do.

"However I have heard in the dressing room it is impossible to win here.

"I have played here with Chelsea, Inter [Milan] and Madrid various times and this is nothing new.

"I will congratulate Barcelona for what they did at the Bernabeu last week but not for the qualification."

In a frosty press conference Mourinho also refused to accept he had made the wrong decision in starting Gonzalo Higuain ahead of Benzema despite the positive impression the Frenchman made as a second-half substitute. "We played very well in the first half.

"The half-time was very easy for me because if you are not playing well 10 minutes is a very short time, but I only had to speak to the players for a minute."

Midfielder Xabi Alonso added that despite going out, Real had at least restored their pride in the second leg.

He said: "We have come very close. This team has qualities and potential. Today we played a great game, we have chances and (Jose Manuel) Pinto has played very well. We don't leave here happy but we are proud."

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola also congratulated Real for their performance and admitted he was relieved to have made it through to the semi-finals after an intense game that swung back and forth.

"The players have shown a great fortitude and I congratulate them.

"Madrid is a great team and because of that this victory has great merit. Madrid played very well, but over the 180 minutes we were deserving winners.

"They played without pressure, because they knew they had nothing to lose.

"They pushed high up the field, but we knew they would because we have experience of them doing that here. To turn the tie around you need to play like this.

"It is more difficult to beat Real Madrid every time we play them, and that is why we are so happy.

"We know the potential they have but throughout both games we have played a good tie."