Shortly after leading his side to Copa del Rey glory against FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF coach José Mourinho said "anything can happen" when the teams meet again in next week's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Cristiano Ronaldo's extra-time header proved the only goal of a second intense encounter between the rivals in five days, taking the Merengues to their first trophy since the Spanish Super Cup in 2008. Madrid's victory also confirmed Mourinho as the first coach to lift domestic cups in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain having previously triumphed at FC Porto, Chelsea FC and FC Internazionale Milano.
"I'm very happy to have won the cup in my own country as well as in three other important European countries in terms of football, but out on the pitch it's the players who do everything," the 48-year-old Portuguese trainer said.
"It was a very even match," he continued. "In the first half we were better and I'm still not sure how that header from Pepe [which hit the post] didn't go in. After the break they were the better side. It was a great game of football in which we played very well against a great team and for that the result has even more value."
Responding to criticism from certain quarters concerning the style in which his charges prevailed – Madrid started with three defensive midfielders – the two-time UEFA Champions League winner responded: "If I were to play as some would like, it would mean starting with six forwards. We play as we feel we have to play."
Admitting that his players had "shed the weight from around their necks of not having won anything for a few years", Mourinho added that the upcoming UEFA Champions League last-four encounter with Barça will be an unpredictable affair. "I don't know if we can beat them in an eliminator. Against the greatest teams anything can happen. They are a top side and we can win or lose against them."
Having previously won all six of his finals as Barcelona coach, Josep Guardiola stayed positive, with more contests against Madrid on the horizon. "I'd like to congratulate Real Madrid and both sets of fans," he said. "It's obviously better to win than to lose but we can't always win. We'll lift ourselves as we have done many times before. We must quickly recover for Saturday's Liga game [at home to CA Osasuna] and from there we will mentally prepare for what is to come."
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