x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jose Mourinho dodges the press

The Real Madrid manager sends his assistant, Aitor Karanka, to face the journalists ahead of their Primera Liga game against Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager, has skipped press conferences ahead of crucial games in the recent past.
Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager, has skipped press conferences ahead of crucial games in the recent past.

MADRID // Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid coach, opted for silence ahead of their Sunday early morning clash with Barcelona.

Mourinho sent Aitor Karanka, his assistant, to face journalists at a news conference on Friday, after the team's final training session before the match at the Bernabeu Stadium.

Karanka was curt when twice asked why Mourinho was absent.

"I've been here [at news conferences] more than 30 times," he said, adding that he did not need to give further explanations about why Mourinho had decided not to appear. "Whatever message the boss has is the same one I have and the same the players have."

It is not the first time Mourinho has skipped a briefing before an important match. Before hosting Barcelona at the Bernabeu last season, Karanka was also dispatched to answer questions - prompting a number of journalists to walk out in protest.

Karanka also took over media duties when Mourinho was serving a touchline ban from the Champions League this season, and has fielded questions ahead of important league matches against Villarreal and Valencia.

Predictably, the assistant coach gave little away on Friday. He acknowledged the game against Barcelona was "special" but said Real were preparing "in the same way as for any other match".

The match may be Mourinho's best chance of claiming a first league win against the reigning champions and some payback for Barcelona's dominance.

Real go into the game in fantastic form and can break a 50-year-old record with their 16th consecutive victory in all competitions if they win.

Mourinho has a full squad available except for Ricardo Carvalho, the Portugal centre back, who is recovering from twisted knee ligaments and has not played since late September.