Mourinho: Real deserve UCL success
Jose Mourinho claims he decided to publicise his starting side for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final at Borussia Dortmund more than 24 hours in advance as he was confident his players have the quality individually and collectively to advance to the final and win the competition.
The Real Madrid manager read out his line-up for the game at Tuesday afternoon's press conference in Dortmund, with Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao as full-backs, Diego Lopez in goal and Gonzalo Higuain in attack, and just a doubt over whether Angel Di Maria will be available as his partner has just had a baby boy.
Mourinho said he named the XI so early as he had belief in their ability to go on and win a trophy which had been unjustly denied them during his two previous seasons in charge.
"I believe in the team for their individual quality that the players have, their collective quality, their way of playing," Mourinho said. "The players want this [to win the competition], and they deserve this. I would like that, over the two legs, football is fair to these people. They have not won a Champions League as a team. They were eliminated twice in ways which were hard to accept in the semi-finals. I would like football to be just with them."
Madrid were unable to get the better of Dortmund when the two teams met in the group stages last autumn, with Jurgen Klopp's side winning 2-1 at home and then drawing 2-2 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho said he was sure his team could do better this time around, as all four goals conceded over those two games had come from individual errors, and his side were defending better both individually and collectively now.
"The goals they scored were all from our mistakes, all four were our errors," he said. "All could have been easily avoided. I expect in this game we will have much more defensive concentration, be much more solid in that respect. If they score it will be fantastic or unstoppable, goals we could do nothing about."
The former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss said he expected Dortmund would play their normal attacking game on Wednesday night, and not look to sit back and hit Madrid on the break, as that is what Klopp had said they would do.
"I consider that Klopp is a great coach, I do not know him well, but he seems a very honest, genuine person," Mourinho said. "When I read him say he will not concern himself with Madrid, but with his own team, their own identity, how they always play, I must believe him. I assume they will go for it with everything, they will attack, as that is what he has said."
Asked how he planned to deal with Dortmund's attacking high-pressure game, Mourinho suggested he had a few tricks up his sleeve.
"I do not want to be too specific in my response, but your way of analysing Dortmund is correct," he said. "They have their own identity and it is not easy to play against them. We agree with that, but we will not tell you the preparations and plans we have made to attack them. I gave you the team, which is normally a secret, safely locked up."