MILAN (AFP) – Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho on Monday denied that their Champions League semi-final against holders Barcelona is the 'real' final, insisting that would be disrespectful to Lyon and Bayern Munich.
Inter host the Catalans at the San Siro on Tuesday in what is certainly the more glamorous of the two ties in the last four.
|Jose Mourinho (AFP file)|
But for Mourinho, who guided Porto to the crown in 2004 against Monaco in the most unlikely title-match of recent times, it would be disingenuous to consider this match ultimately decisive.
"An early final does not exist. It's a semi-final and only the winners will go through to the real final, the one in Madrid," he said.
"And hence that won't be Inter-Barcelona. Lyon and Bayern deserve all the respect because they've reached the same stage as us.
"They also have a 25 percent chance of winning, they have their history and they've knocked out great teams, like Real Madrid.
"And Bayern have one of the best coaches in the world (Louis van Gaal)."
The two sides have already met twice this season in the group stages with the match in Milan ending in a goalless stalemate before Barcelona dominated in a 2-0 success in Spain.
Barcelona dominated possession in both games but following the San Siro encounter Mourinho claimed his team had played well even without the ball.
And he is not expecting them to have much of it on Tuesday either.
"I'm not interested in the possession of the ball. If tomorrow the team that has the most possession wins, then we've already lost.
"For the first 10 minutes and the last 10 in the game in September in Milan, they were better but for the rest it was even.
"In the game in Barcelona in the group they showed great superiority, winning easily and deservedly.
"But a lot of time has passed since then. They're as good as they were in November but we're much better now.
"Therefore I believe it's a 50-50 game. Tactically we're more compact, the mentality in the Champions League is very different, the psychological situation is totally different.
"We know it will be difficult but I doubt they're not concerned about playing us."
While the ultra-confident Mourinho claimed he has no concerns over the Catalans control of the ball, he also stated that he has no special plans to subdue the world's best player.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi scored four goals in a 4-1 demolition of Arsenal in the quarter-final, second leg at Camp Nou but Mourinho feels no need to pay extra attention to the young wizard.
"We'll see where he plays tomorrow. He can play on the right, on the left, as the frontman, behind Ibra (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) as he did against Arsenal, behind Bojan (Krkic) as he did against Arsenal at home.
"He's a great player who requires a lot of attention but it's not in my culture to man-mark.
"It won't be one against Messi and 10 against 10, it will be 11 against 11."
Barcelona have had to endure a 1,000km bus trip over two days just to be here for the game but Mourinho played down the significance of that tribulation.
"If that had happened to me I would have tried to use it to build team spirit," he said.
"Of course a bus journey is uncomfortable but (Dennis) Bergkamp or (McDonald) Mariga would certainly prefer to go by bus than by plane.
"We went to Moscow (in the previous round) against a team (CSKA) that hadn't played in the week, on a plastic pitch and we played."