Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Champions League: Mourinho ready for Barcelona test

Jose Mourinho insisted he was right to name a strong team in the Champions League quarter-final second leg at Tottenham tonight, despite losing Ricardo Carvalho to suspension for the semi-final against Barcelona.

Real led 4-0 from the first leg and Cristiano Ronaldo's strike tonight sealed Real's place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in eight years, with a 5-0 aggregate win.

Mourinho, the first manager to reach the Champions League semi-finals with four different clubs, claimed he was right to name a strong team, even though Carvalho picked up a first half booking which will rule him out of the Barcelona match.

The Portuguese said: "I think i was right when i decided to play with a good team.

"Tottenham had a couple of chances and of course 4-0 is a good difference but if they scored in the first half with an incredible crowd and a good team it could have be difficult."

Looking ahead to the semi-finals against rivals Barcelona, Mourinho insisted his side have a good chance of advancing to the final but claimed their league and cup final double with the Catalans will be the main focus for now.

He added on ITV: "Let's see what happens [against Barcelona]. We have ambition, a semi is a semi and anything can happen.

"They have a great situation with lack of suspensions and we don't have that. We were punished by UEFA for poor yellow cards. We have two matches against them before the semi-finals and it is time to think about them first."

Tottenham defender Gareth Bale acknowledged Real had been the better side over both games, but also admitted defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, believing Spurs were unlucky not to have at least one penalty.

"It is hard to take, we knew before the game it would be a difficult challenge but we've had a great run and had a go at it," he said.

"Sometimes they [penalty decisions] go for you and sometimes they don't, they were probably the better team over two legs and deserved to go through."

Bale also said that after the team's first taste of Champions League football they want to be back in Europe's elite competition next season.

He added: "It has been fantastic not just for me but for everybody, nobody expected us to get this far and it has been great for me on a personal note.

"There is every chance [of qualifying for next year]. We are only three points off Manchester City in fourth (in the Barclays Premier League) and there is still a lot to play for, we have a game in hand as well."

Harry Redknapp insisted that after this season's impressive showing in the Champions League Tottenham have to qualify next season to keep on improving.

"It is no good doing it once and then not doing it again, we have to improve and be there next year too," he said.

"You've seen the players we have to play at that level and we just need to tweak that squad so we can do it again. Much like Arsenal do, and Chelsea and Manchester United, that's how they keep doing it."

Redknapp echoed Bale's claims that the team will now give their all to make sure their season in Europe is not a one-off showing.

"The team will give it their best shot, it is going to be tough. We have to finish above Man City and above Chelsea, that is our aim - it is not going to be easy but that is what we want."

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