Mourinho: Real are leaders
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has insisted he does not want to swap positions with bitter rivals Barcelona as he prepared his team for tomorrow's Copa del Rey clash with Ponferradina.
The capital club's 15-match winning run came to a halt on Saturday night after a 3-1 home defeat by Barcelona in the first Clasico of the season, lifting Pep Guardiola's champions level on points with Mourinho's men at the La Liga summit - and top by virtue of head-to-head record, albeit having played a game more.
Mourinho, however, claimed this afternoon that he would not trade places with Barça after his side's impressive start to the campaign. "I would not change our situation for anyone else's," Mourinho said to Spanish newspaper AS. "In the Champions League, we have the best record in the history of the competition; in La Liga, no team has more points than us and we have a game in hand.
"There are three possibilities: we finish the year tied first with Barcelona, we lead by a point, or we lead by three points. So I would not change for anybody."
Mourinho's team can regain a three-point cushion at the top of the standings heading into the winter break by beating Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this weekend. Before that, though, Real begin their Copa defence at Ponferradina, having crashed out of the competition at this stage - the fourth round - to third-tier Alcorcon two years ago.
Mourinho has backed his players to provide a positive response to their weekend defeat. "I hope it will not affect them. They are different games and competitions. In La Liga there's nobody above us, nobody with more points than us. In the cup we are all equal. In La Liga we have the advantage over all but a team that has the same points having played a game more."
When asked to send a message to the dejected Madrid fans, he replied: "A message? Two words: we're leaders."
The Portuguese coach accepted Barça's stunning 3-1 win at the Bernabeu had lessened the euphoria which had surrounded the club in recent weeks, but claimed it would not affect his troops. "I see that change," Mourinho said.
"It's not my job to see it. I am dedicated to work, to try to improve and win the next game. Perhaps it is a consequence of the historical dimension of this club. It is so great that a loss becomes a problem. I'd rather lose the last game and still have the chance to be sole leader on Saturday.
"The Sevilla game will be very difficult. Getting to early December is a fantastic thing. If we avoid defeat, we would end as winter champions - a title I do not like because it is useless."
Leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was whistled by his own fans on Saturday and reportedly booed as he left the stadium, but Mourinho backed the Portuguese forward to silence the doubters. "If he is like me, he will not hear whistles," said the former Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan boss.
"During the game there is no time to listen to what happens outside. I do not think it's a big problem. He has been affected by losing a game, like everyone, but he has never lost the emotional balance. It is normal that today is sadder than a fortnight ago, but there is no drama in our situation."