Madrid's Mourinho goads Barca ahead of 'clasico'
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is taking pleasure from goading his former employer Barcelona ahead of the Spanish league ''clasico'' between the two teams on Monday.
The self-proclaimed ''Special One'' reminded the Catalan club that Inter Milan - then coached by Mourinho - had denied Barcelona a chance at history last season.
Inter beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals, depriving it of a place in the final at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium. This will be Mourinho's first return to Barcelona since that match.
''When I went to Barcelona with Chelsea or Inter it was fun, but now it will be even more fun,'' Mourinho said. ''Barcelona has won everything but it never won the Champions League in the Bernabeu and maybe in another 30 or 40 years they'll get another chance to do it.''
Mourinho's arrival at Madrid has certainly increased the antagonism between the two already bitter rivals.
And while Mourinho accused Barcelona of being ''obsessed'' with winning the Champions League at the Bernabeu, Barcelona has also become an obsession for Mourinho.
''Provoking is part of his style,'' former Barcelona player Deco - who also played for Mourinho at FC Porto - told Catalunya Radio.
The Portuguese coach got his start as a translator at Barcelona for Bobby Robson before working as an assistant to Louis Van Gaal. His visits before were in the Champions League with Chelsea and Inter, but this time it's a 13th-round league match with Madrid leading Barcelona by a single point in the standings.
Spanish newspapers have lapped up Mourinho's addition to the always dramatic national derby, painting it as a Mourinho vs. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola matchup. Sports daily Marca has even portrayed the pair back-to-back in a wild west showdown.
Many TV stations have dug up footage of Mourinho celebrating at Barcelona's city hall in 1997 when he said: ''Barcelona in my heart today, tomorrow and forever.''
Mourinho, one of only three coaches to win Champions League titles with two different clubs, expected a ''great game'' Monday but claimed Barcelona already had an advantage with Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez as referee.
Barcelona won both the clasicos which Gonzalez was in charge of.
Mourinho also played down how he would be welcomed at the 90,000-plus Camp Nou stadium.
''There's no reason my welcome would change. I couldn't care less,'' Mourinho said Sunday. ''I don't think any coach ever worries about this sort of thing. Not one loses his concentration because of the crowd.''
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who in his playing days worked with Mourinho, praised his rival.
''He's the best,'' Guardiola said. ''He convinces his players of his ways because he is the best or one of the best. Mourinho gives so many things to his players, so many good things to his players.''
While Mourinho has advanced past Barcelona in the Champions League, he has never won in five matches at the Camp Nou.
Guardiola, meanwhile, has led Barcelona to a record four straight wins over Madrid in the league's biggest derby, while Barcelona has won eight trophies to Madrid's zero in the last two seasons.
''This year, with Mourinho, it could be the best (clasico),'' Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said. ''The ingredients are there for it to be an incredible game.''