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Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho tetchy ahead of Atletico

Jose Mourinho faced the media in English at the Vincente Calderon Stadium in Madrid yesterday. Picture: PA

Jose Mourinho faced the media in English at the Vincente Calderon Stadium in Madrid yesterday. Picture: PA

  • by COLIN STEWART
 

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was in a curt mood on the eve of his team’s Champions League semi-final first leg with Atletico Madrid and refused to discuss Saturday’s controversial Premier League loss to Sunderland.

Relegation-threatened Sunderland won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to end Mourinho’s 77-match unbeaten home record in the Premier League and further dent Chelsea’s title hopes, leaving the European Cup as their most likely chance of silverware this term.

Midfielder Ramires, Mourinho and his assistant Rui Faria could all face scrutiny when the Football Association returns on Tuesday for incidents during the loss. After the match Mourinho offered only veiled criticisms of the officials and referees’ chief Mike Riley, and he declined to elaborate last night.

“Today and tomorrow and also Wednesday are Champions League days and if you want to speak about the Premier League you have 19 teams in England that you can speak with,” Mourinho said. “Chelsea today and tomorrow is Champions League and we are only available to speak about Champions League. We are lucky to be involved in the Champions League, so we are lucky that in the next two days we don’t think about the Premier League and what’s happened and what is going to happen because now we only think about tomorrow.”

Ramires’ domestic season could be at a premature end after he caught Sebastian Larsson with a failing arm, while Faria was sent to the stands for angrily approaching fourth official Phil Dowd. Mourinho, meanwhile, laced his appraisal of match referee Mike Dean with sarcasm, barely hiding his contempt after Fabio Borini – on loan from the Premier League leaders – netted the decisive penalty in comments which could lead to him facing further censure from the FA. He declined the opportunity to speak about tonight’s referee, the Swede Jonas Eriksson, who was criticised by Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini earlier this season.

“I don’t speak about the referees before the game,” Mourinho said. “Before the game I always think that the referee is there to do his job. And tomorrow I don’t change my mind. I hope he has a good game. I hope he’s prepared for the dimension of the game. I hope he’s happy.”

Curiously, Chelsea face their own goalkeeper on Tuesday as Thibaut Courtois is poised to feature against his parent club during his third season on loan at Atletico. It was reported that Chelsea would demand a fee of around €3 million (£2.5m) for each game in accordance with their confidential loan agreement, but UEFA announced it expected Courtois to be free to face the Blues.

Mourinho said: “I think that on UEFA decisions it’s better not to comment, you just accept or if you don’t accept you don’t make any comment.”

Asked about Courtois, Mourinho said: “I don’t speak about players from other teams.”

Mourinho was returning to the Spanish capital for the first time since his three-year spell at Real Madrid ended, but declined to speak in Spanish. That was left to David Luiz.

Mourinho was facing the media for the first time since Chelsea reached their seventh Champions League semi-final in 11 seasons with victory over Paris St Germain almost two weeks ago. But the Portuguese was not in his often talkative mood. He declined to discuss in detail his thoughts on Atletico as the Blues compete for a place in the 24 May final in Lisbon against Real Madrid or defending champions Bayern Munich.

“It’s with my players that I have to share my opinions about Atletico,” Mourinho said. “I [have] watched them play lots of times. When we got them in the draw, from that moment I watched them play with better eyes. I study a lot, I try to be ready to make my players understand what Atletico is, but I have no interests in sharing with you my vision. To reach a Champions League semi-final and to be fighting for the Spanish title, you must be a very important team. We know Atletico will try everything to win the game, but we are going to try to win too.”

Mourinho is twice a Champions League winner – with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010 – but not with 2012 winners Chelsea. Twice he reached the semi-final as Blues boss, each time losing to Sunday’s Premier League opponents Liverpool.

Mourinho declared in Spain he is still a Real fan, while Atletico supporter Fernando Torres could be granted an opportunity on his old stomping ground on Tuesday. Striker Samuel Eto’o did not travel due to a knee injury, but playmaker Eden Hazard did despite a calf problem, as did unwell goalkeeper Petr Cech. The absence of Eto’o could see Torres called upon.

Torres was mobbed on his arrival for his first return to Atletico since his July 2007 move to Liverpool. “I have no doubts that in the minutes that he’s on the pitch tomorrow he’s going to try to do everything for Chelsea,” Mourinho said.

 

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