There is little sympathy for Jose Mourinho's early season woes among the fans of his former club, Real Madrid. His most committed followers in the Spanish capital were too busy celebrating Real's 6-1 away win over Galatasaray on Tuesday to defend him and his critics were not going to pass up the opportunity to laugh at Chelsea's home defeat to Basel.
"How long before he drops Petr Cech" and "he's nothing without Aitor Karanka" were representative of the humour inspired by such an unexpected capitulation. The jokes were references to Mourinho dropping Iker Casillas at Madrid and his tendency to send out assistant Karanka when he did not feel like talking to the press – although in fairness to the Portuguese he always showed if Real had failed to win.
In the press area of the Nou Camp there was a more sober reaction as news reached the Barcelona players after their 4-0 win over Ajax that their old nemesis had made an inauspicious start to the Champions League campaign.
Gerard Pique said: "What you have to avoid in the group is a surprise. Chelsea, losing at home against Basel, is an example of that; that makes things complicated. In recent years we have qualified fairly easily, before the last game and that saves you the suffering that perhaps teams like the example you have given – Chelsea – are now going to have."
Pique agreed that this could be a strange Champions League with so many teams having changed coaches in the summer but he pointed out a key difference. "The style here since [Johan] Cruyff came has not changed," he said. "You can have variations and moments in the game when you play one way or another but in the end the aim is always to have the ball and control the game and from there create the chances on goal."
The idea that Barcelona's style is predetermined and unlikely to change whoever takes charge and that Chelsea have swung widely from wanting Pep Guardiola in charge and buying the players that would suit the Catalan coach, only to then end up appointing Mourinho, has left people scratching their heads. Almost as much as Mourinho's decision to put Spain international Juan Mata on the bench.
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