Champions League

Mourinho seeking return of old CL magic

2017-09-11 07:55
Jose Mourinho (Getty Images)

Manchester - He has twice stunned Old Trafford into silence on Champions League nights, but as Manchester United make their competition return, Jose Mourinho's obligation is to make the old stadium roar.

In 2004 his Porto side sensationally eliminated United in the Champions League last 16 and in 2013 he returned with Real Madrid to bring the curtain down on Alex Ferguson's European exploits in the Old Trafford dug-out.

The Champions League has always been the competition in which Mourinho has defined himself and he has already been talking up his chances of surpassing Ferguson's record as the competition's most experienced manager.

"I know that I am in the top five or six. I'm quite far, especially from the top one, but I will fight hard to go for that record," said Mourinho, who has overseen 133 Champions League games to Ferguson's 194.

"Last season I lost a season in the chase for this record (as United won the Europa League), but Manchester United is where Manchester United has to be and I'm really happy with that.

"The Champions League night is a unique experience for everyone. I have some players without that great experience.

"I think it will be fabulous for them and the fans to be back in the Champions League and to have the initial three matches to be played at Old Trafford, I think is fantastic."

The Old Trafford crowd's first encounter with their current manager in March 2004 exposed them to the full force of Mourinho the provocateur.

He raced down the touchline, coattails flapping behind him, when Costinha's late goal took Porto through at United's expense, before witheringly proclaiming that Ferguson's side "should be doing a lot better".

Nine years later, the Mourinho who took his seat in the dugout was an altogether more conciliatory figure.

He later claimed he already knew about Ferguson's impending retirement at that point and his unusually diplomatic comments before and after the game suggested a desire to ingratiate himself with United's fans and board.

Score to settle

"The best team lost," Mourinho said after a 2-1 win for Real Madrid in the last 16 that hinged on a contentious red card shown to United winger Nani for catching Alvaro Arbeloa with a high boot.

But rather than Mourinho leading United into the next campaign, it was the hapless David Moyes, who managed to steer the club to the Champions League quarter-finals even as the wheels fell off domestically.

United's toils under Moyes and then Louis van Gaal mean Old Trafford has not staged a Champions League knockout game since April 2014.

They rediscovered the winning feeling in Europe under Mourinho last season by triumphing in the Europa League, but it is the Champions League where both he and United feel they belong.

Mourinho, 54, dreams of becoming only the third manager to win three European Cups, after Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, and the first to do so with three different clubs.

But his stock in the competition has dipped since his second success with Inter Milan in 2010, the Portuguese having failed to go beyond the semi-finals in his three years at Madrid and two-and-a-half-year second stint at Chelsea.

Both he and United also have reason to be wary of their first Group A opponents Basel, who visit Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Four years ago, the first Champions League game of Mourinho's second Chelsea tenure culminated in a surprise 2-1 home defeat by the Swiss club.

Chelsea, like United now, were the defending Europa League champions.

Two years previously, United crashed out of the Champions League in the group phase after a 2-1 defeat at Basel's St Jakob-Park stadium that was compounded by a gruesome knee injury sustained by captain Nemanja Vidic.

With Basel having avoided defeat on their two previous visits to Old Trafford in 2003 and 2011, Mourinho already has a score to settle.

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 02 October 2018
Juventus v Young Boys, Allianz Stadium 18:55
Hoffenheim v Manchester City, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 18:55
Bayern Munchen v Ajax, Allianz-Arena 21:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Shakhtar Donetsk, Groupama OL Academy Decines-Charpieu 21:00
Manchester United v Valencia, Old Trafford 21:00
AEK Athens v Benfica, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 21:00
Roma v Viktoria Plzen, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
CSKA Moskva v Real Madrid, VEB Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
PSG v Crvena Zvezda, Parc des Princes 18:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Schalke 04, RZD Arena 18:55
Porto v Galatasaray, Estadio Do Dragao 21:00
Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:00
PSV v Internazionale, Philips Stadion 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Napoli v Liverpool, Stadio San Paolo 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona, Wembley Stadium 21:00
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
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