Jose Mourinho believes that even if Inter Milan do not reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League this season, he will still have realised a major achievement in making them competitive in Europe once again.
Inter are well placed to book their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League after a 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow at the San Siro last night, but a pragmatic Mourinho preferred to look at the bigger picture. Inter have repeatedly failed to make it beyond the quarter-finals in recent years, but Mourinho believes he has laid the foundations for a more successful era on a European stage, no matter what happens in Moscow next week.
"If Inter don't reach Madrid or even the semi-finals, for sure this year we have lifted the huge mental block of playing in the Champions League," he said. "Inter have no fear of playing in the Champions League anymore and this is a result that will always stay.
"I cannot say if we will win the Champions League this year. There are another seven teams who want to win it as much as we do, but for sure next year, when Inter enter the Champions League again, they will be free of this mental block."
The chances of the Nerazzurri reaching the last four of the competition are high after the first-leg victory. The Serie A side will not only take a one-goal advantage into the second leg in the Russian capital next week, but they also kept a clean sheet, which is just what Mourinho was hoping for.
"If before the game I had been offered this result, then I would have accepted it happily as it is a good result in the Champions League," he said. "I probably wanted even more given the way we played in the second half, but it is still a victory and we are happy."
But Mourinho has warned against complacency with 90 minutes of the tie still to play. He said: "There are two games and we cannot say after one game if a result is fantastic or a disaster. It all depends on the second game. If we lose 2-0 in Moscow, tonight's result will have been a disaster. If we draw 0-0, tonight's result will have been fantastic."
CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky also saw the glass half-full, especially after his side weathered a storm in the second half to remain in with a chance of turning the tie around in Moscow. "We could not have done better than this given the amount of Inter's chances; it could have been a lot worse," he said. "As for next week, we play at home and that is easier for everybody. Our fans will help us in Moscow."