Monday, November 29, 2010
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho preferred not to get swept away by the hype surrounding their showdown with Barcelona, pointing out that, while important, there is still a long way to go in the season after Monday's clash at the Nou Camp.

Madrid have enjoyed a fantastic start to life under Mourinho, with 15 victories and four draws from 19 competitive matches leaving the club top of the Primera Division standings and through to the last 16 of the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

However, they face their biggest test so far under the Portuguese as they take on Barcelona - who are just a point behind the pacesetters in La Liga - in the first El Clasico of the season.

The encounter is one of the most eagerly-anticipated meeting between the two in recent times with both clubs in stunning form and rival superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of their games, but Mourinho was keen to add a little perspective to proceedings.

"Every game is important. Every point that you lose could be key at the end. But after tomorrow's game there will be 25 matches left and there are a lot of points in play and so many factors," he said.

Last season the two encounters between the bitter rivals played a crucial role in deciding where the Primera Division title ended up, with Barca doing the double over Madrid as they finished three points clear of the capital club at the top of the table,

"It's an important game but not decisive. If we win, the following morning will be Tuesday, and if we lose, it will also be Tuesday," added Mourinho, who nevertheless believes tomorrow's mouthwatering contest could live up to expectations.

"The world is waiting for this game and we have the responsibility to give the world the game that expect," he said.

"These are two teams who could be the best, with top players and everything is in place for it to be a great game.

"I hope that the players help the referee and that it's a game where they only talk of the football and nice things."

Whatever happens at the Nou Camp though, Mourinho hopes his side can continue afterwards as they have been doing so successfully up to this point.

He said: "I hope that if my team loses, it won't change either their confidence of self-esteem, and if they win they will continue with their feet on the ground. I will continue to be calm after the game whatever the result.

"We need to be aware that the season is played over 10 months at a very high level. I'm sure we will continue with calm, regardless of the result."

With regards to who should be considered favourites for the match, Mourinho said: "Many times in Clasicos and derbies it isn't the best team or the one ahead in the table who wins; these matches provide a different motivation, we can have 10 points more or 10 less, but in these games it's very difficult to say who is better and who is favourite."

Mourinho has named a strong 20-man squad for the trip to the Nou Camp with Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira included after recovering from their knocks.


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