Mourinho: Tie still in the balance
Jose Mourinho is refusing to accept that Inter Milan will be one of the UEFA Champions League finalists, despite defeating holders Barcelona 3-1 at the San Siro.
The Nerazzurri go to the Nou Camp next Wednesday with a substantial advantage, but Mourinho says his side's chances are still only 50/50. "Anything can happen in the return leg," he said.
"We can go there and win, we can go there and not win but go through, we can go there and lose the game and lose the tie. Anything can happen. Yesterday I said 50/50, now it is not 51/49, it remains 50/50.
"What happened today has happened. It was not a dream, it was the reality. We won and deserved to win. This is the only fact from today's game, but there is a game to play in second leg and I don't change my percentage from what I said yesterday."
Nevertheless, Mourinho was delighted with the position his side have put themselves into and spoke of his "pride" at what he has achieved this season, even if they do not reach the Madrid final. "Inter can either go to Madrid to play the final, or come home from Barcelona with our heads held high," he said.
"If we go to Madrid, we will be happy, if not, we will be sad, but we will know that we have done well. To sum things up: I came to Inter which was a small team in the Champions League and struggled to qualify, could not get past the quarter-finals, was scared of playing, and now we have won and deserved to win against the best team in the world.
"If we then win in Barcelona, then fantastic. If we don't, then fair enough. If we don't win this year, then maybe next year, or in two years' time. Inter has changed and nothing will be different in the history of the Champions League. Anything can happen, but the pride of my players to change the future of Inter on a Champions League level is something that nobody can take away from this side."
Pep Guardiola also insists the tie is not over yet and that the real Barcelona, Lionel Messi included, will be able to overturn the two-goal deficit at the Nou Camp, despite falling to his heaviest defeat in the Champions League since taking charge. "It is never good to lose by more than one goal, but it is the first time in the Champions League since I was in charge of Barcelona; the first time it has happened to us in 19 months," he said.
"But we are convinced that we can turn the tie around. It can happen in a semi-final against Inter. It's not ideal to lose by two goals, but we can overturn it."
Messi failed to make a positive impact on the game, but Guardiola insists that the he will be a key figure in the second leg. "We'll invite you to Barcelona and then you will see the real Messi," said Guardiola.
"Our fans will get behind us and we can do it. Today was not our best game and Inter are not a team who let you play easily. I congratulate our opponents and hope we can do better in the second leg."
Mourinho took the congratulations, but admitted the win was not his best or sweetest as coach of Inter. "Stamford Bridge was better," he said. "We won qualification to the next round there, whereas tonight we have just won a game. If we lose 2-1 in Barcelona, then that will be a more beautiful defeat than this 3-1 win."