MADRID – Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said Wednesday he would rather lose the Spanish Super Cup to arch-rivals Barcelona if it meant his team could win La Liga.
On the eve of the first leg of the Super Cup at Camp Nou, the self-annointed “Special One” said, however, that the trophy would have no impact on the season and he still wants to win it.
“If losing the Super Cup is a motivation for winning La Liga I would sign right now but I don’t think that’s how it is,” Mourinho told a news conference.
“It is simply the least important competition of the four that we play and in my opinion it has no consequence on the season. But obviously it is a competition we want to win — and our opponents too.”
Besides competing in the Super Cup, Real Madrid will this season defend their title as La Liga champions and try to win back the domestic King’s Cup from their Catalan rivals.
The Champions League title is a coveted goal for Mourinho, who has made no secret of his ambition to achieve three victories with three different clubs after winning with FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.
The coach said Barcelona was basically the same team when asked if he expected a change under new coach Tito Vilanova, promoted from his previous job as assistant to Pep Guardiola who left at the end of last season.
“There may be a few new details but essentially nothing has changed. It is the same Barca we know: a quality team with great players,” Mourinho told reporters.
In the second leg of last season’s Super Cup, Mourinho famously took exception to Barca’s then assistant Vilanova and poked him in eye in a pitch side scuffle.
Barca won 3-2 that night after drawing the first-leg in the Bernabeu and afterwards Mourinho conveniently misnamed his victim as “Pito Vilanova” in the post-match press conference.
On Sunday, Vilanova launched his league campaign with a 5-1 victory over Real Sociedad and said he aimed to win the Super Cup tie. “We’re playing Madrid so you can imagine,” he said.
Mourinho’s squad will faces the Catalans on Thursday without Pepe, however, after the defender bashed his head in the season’s first game and spent a night in hospital.
“Pepe won’t play,” he told a news conference on the eve of the match against arch-rivals Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Mourinho said that if Pepe had a choice he would play, despite clashing heads in mid-air with goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 1-1 home draw with Valencia on Sunday.
“For him yes but for us no,” he added. “It is not human to risk a player for a football game, whatever the game is. So, there is no doubt either with the medical department or with the coach that Pepe will not play.
“He is progressing well. He is very good, he is already training. And without wanting to go too far, our feeling is that he could be there on Sunday without any risk.”
Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol will play instead on Thursday, Mourinho revealed but refused to give more details of the lineup.
Pepe had to quit the field at half-time after the head clash and spent a night at a Madrid hospital, where a medical report said he arrived “in a confused and agitated state”.
But a scan revealed no serious damage and he improved overnight to show a “good level of awareness”, it added.