Tottenham Hotspur allowed to sign World Cup finalist from Real Madrid after transfer wait.
|Mourinho takes a training session in Madrid as Real prepare for their first home match of the La Liga season [AFP]|
It is six years since Jose Mourinho announced himself as the “Special One” when he arrived at Chelsea but last season’s treble-winner with Inter Milan still has a lot to prove to live up to that title in his new post.
The Portuguese took over at Real Madrid this summer as a European Champions League holder who also had the Italian Serie A and Italian Cup trophies tucked under his belt.
He has been successful at every club he has managed, but the most colourful coach in the game at the moment must win over the Madrid faithful this weekend after a goalless draw in his first match two weeks ago.
Mourinho steps out at the Bernabeu for the first time in the Spanish Primera Liga on Saturday as his new team take on Osasuna already two points behind fierce rivals Barcelona in the table.
His opening day 0-0 draw at Real Mallorca two weeks ago was something of a comedown after all the pre-season build up.
While his side struggled, champions Barca purred to a 4-0 victory at Racing Santander.
It may be premature to talk about points tallies after one round of matches, but both clubs broke records to finish first and second last year, and Barca only dropped 15 points through the entire campaign.
Mourinho preached a message of patience after the Mallorca game, saying he was a coach not a magician, but that usually falls on deaf ears in the Spanish capital, where two years in Barca’s shadow without silverware really hurts.
|Mascherano has arrived from Liverpool to add steel to Barcelona’s midfield [EPA]|
He will have had little time to iron out the inconsistencies he identified in Mallorca, with 12 of his players having been away on international duty, and he also needs to consider the return to Champions League action next week.
Cristiano Ronaldo is close to a recovering from his ankle injury as is his Portuguese compatriot Pepe, but neither are expected to feature on Saturday.
Sergio Ramos and Ricardo Carvalho will probably operate as a makeshift centre back pairing again.
Barcelona are at home to promoted Hercules, who could hand deadline day signing David Trezeguet his La Liga debut at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
Barca, who boosted their midfield in the international break with the signing of Argentine Javier Mascherano from liverpool, have defender Carles Puyol still recovering from a muscle injury and is unlikely to be available.
In Saturday’s late game, Atletico Madrid have the chance to further build the idea that they could represent a third challenger for the league title.
The Europa League winners received a huge boost to confidence with their European Super Cup win over Inter Milan two weeks ago and followed that up with a scintillating 4-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon.
Strengthened in defence, and with Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero looking in fine form they will, however, have a tough task at the traditionally hostile San Mames, where they take on an abrasive and hard-running Athletic Bilbao.