The road to European glory starts in Moscow for Real, some 10 years after their last triumph in the continental competition when Mourinho was making his bow in the tournament
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
Jose Mourinho is no stranger to Moscow. The Portuguese coach has travelled to the Russian capital with both Chelsea and Inter in the Champions League - and emerged victorious on both occasions.
And when Europe's premier club competition climaxed in the city in 2008, he should have been there too.
That year, the Portuguese had departed Chelsea in controversial circumstances back in September after a disappointing draw at home to Rosenborg. Relations had been frosty for some time with Blues owner Roman Abramovich and a split sent shockwaves through the London club.
Against all odds, Chelsea went on to reach the final of the competition under Avram Grant, with a team very much moulded by Mourinho. And in the end, only the woodwork denied the Londoners a first European Cup that Abramovich had expected the Portuguese to deliver, as John Terry slipped and hit the post with what would have been the winning penalty in the shootout.
But Mourinho wasn't there as Chelsea collapsed, Manchester United prevailed and Cristiano Ronaldo claimed European football's precious prize.
Jose Mourinho | 10 YEARS IN THE CL
Now in his 10th Champions League campaign, Mourinho hopes to lead Real Madrid to La Decima - a 10th European crown in European football's premier club competition. And having flawlessly negotiated the group stages with six wins out of six, the knockout round starts in Moscow on Tuesday as Madrid visit CSKA in the last 16.
The omens are good: while Cristiano claimed his only Champions League trophy in the Russian capital, Mourinho's Inter knocked out CSKA in 2010, en route to the famous trophy they won at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho made his competition debut with Porto at the Santiago Bernabeu almost 10 years ago to the day, on February 19, 2002, having taken over mid-season at the Portuguese outfit, with his current Real assistant Aitor Karanka involved as a player for the Spanish side.
Porto would suffer a narrow defeat to Madrid and could not advance beyond the second stage, but Mourinho's men claimed Uefa Cup success in 2003 and captured the attention of the entire continent by winning the Champions League the following year.
Since then, the Portuguese's teams have been a feature of the competition's knockout phase, with two wins and five semi-final appearances in nine campaigns.
Madrid, meanwhile, have failed to claim a trophy they once considered their own since Mourinho's debut year, 2002. They even suffered six successive eliminations in the last 16 until the Special One guided them to the semis in his first term in the capital last year. But with a Copa del Rey won last season, and La Liga looking likely this term, the Portuguese will now switch his attentions to the competition which brought him international recognition.
Some 10 years on from Madrid's last triumph, and in their coach's 10th Champions League campaign, the club's pursuit of La Decima now begins in earnest.
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