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Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Mourinho: Chelsea won't make UCL final

ESPNsoccernet staff

Jose Mourinho has dismissed the chances of facing former side Chelsea in the Champions League final after Real Madrid thrashed APOEL to set up a final four clash with Bayern Munich.

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As expected, Real racked up the goals against the Cypriot minnows after cruising to a 3-0 victory in the first leg last week.

Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and further strikes from Kaka, Jose Callejon and Angel di Maria secured an 8-2 aggregate win after APOEL found the net through Gustavo Manduca and Esteban Solari.

But after booking a semi-final with German giants Bayern, Mourinho confidently predicted it would be Barcelona he would face in the final, should Real get there.

"Barcelona aren't the favourites, they are super-favourites,'' Mourinho said. "Let me be honest, I don't think the final will be a Real Madrid/Chelsea final. It could be Bayern or Barcelona, I just don't think it will be Real Madrid v Chelsea and we know why.''

Mourinho was happy to have had the opportunity to rest some players ahead of a difficult month and was relishing the prospect of facing Bayern after seeing his side secure their progress.

"Bayern is a very powerful opponent," Mourinho said. "It is a team I know well as it is almost the same side that I played when coach of Inter Milan in the Champions League final two years ago and they have great individual players.

"The players and myself are looking forward to what should be a great semi-final. The team is doing well, the players that were injured are getting there and we are physically prepared for the difficult April that we have.

"We wanted to build a team to win the game. Because I didn't think it was possible for Apoel to score four, we wanted to rest a few players and we attempted to balance things.

"We wanted to rest Marcelo and (Esteban) Granero so we substituted them and there might have been a few defensive errors towards the end, but I don't have any criticism, just positive words for a group that have reached this stage for two seasons in a row.''

Mourinho was full of praise for his side's Cypriot opponents, who he said had achieved more than anyone else in this season's competition.

"I think in a few years people in Cyprus will realise what APOEL have done, it is the biggest achievement in the Champions League this season,'' Mourinho added. "If Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich win it's not the same achievement as for APOEL to reach the quarter-final.''

APOEL manager Ivan Jovanovic reflected on the end of a great journey for his side, but declared his pride at having reached the last eight for the first time in the club's history.

"We're the only team at this stage in the competition to have started on July 12 (2011),'' he said. "This was our 16th game, we don't have a big squad but we have worked very hard to reach the position we have. This is the end of this wonderful journey but I and the whole of Cyprus are proud of this team.

"Real Madrid won fairly and it is a fair result, but to score two goals is no small feat. We knew after the result in Nicosia we wouldn't advance, but we wanted to give our best against such a rival in such a stadium.''




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