Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho claims Barcelona are “obsessed” with winning the Champions League at the Bernabeu – home of arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona are 3-1 down to the Italian champions going into Wednesday’s semi-final second leg at the Nou Camp.
And Mourinho is determined to end the Catalan side’s hopes of retaining Europe’s top club trophy on 22 May.
“It is not a dream for Barca, it is obsession. The obsession is reaching the final in Madrid,” he said.
“It’s one thing to follow a dream, it’s another to have an obsession. For Barca it is an obsession.”
Mourinho witnessed Barca’s desire to outdo Real Madrid at first hand when he worked as an assistant to Sir Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal at the club.
“I experienced what it is like here, I have won cups – against Betis in 1997 – at the Bernabeu, where everyone was wrapped in Catalan flags I know what it is about, it is anti-Madridismo. It is an obsession,” explained the former Chelsea boss.
“A dream is more pure than an obsession, an obsession is more about pride.
“Barca achieved a dream winning the Champions League in Paris and Rome last year but this time it is more about Madrid and playing at the Santiago Bernabeu.”
Having hyped up the importance of the game to Barcelona, the Inter boss continued his mind games by playing down the importance of the tournament to him.
“I can’t say for me it is a personal dream [to win the Champions League] as I have won it before but I want to win it for Inter as it is more than 40 years since they got to the final,” stated Mourinho.
“If I can help Mr Moratti [Massimo Moratti, the Inter president], if I can help the players and if I can contribute a little bit as coach to achieve this dream then I would be very happy.”
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets conceded the destination of the final was a huge consideration for the Spanish giants.
“The team is always ambitious but this time I have noticed something special. There is a lot of expectation riding on this game,” said Busquets.
“We are a step away from the final and so this is the moment of truth. We have the best fans in the world and it is sure to be a magical night. We can’t lose our heads though and play without thinking.”
Defender Gerard Pique echoed his team-mates sentiments and added: “It’s one of the most important matches in our recent history.
“I hope the atmosphere makes the Inter players hate their profession for 90 minutes.”
However, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who was captain when Mourinho worked at the Catalan club, moved to dampen the hysteria.
He said: “We have to control the position of the ball and attack in a better way than the first leg.
“We must be ourselves, basically. Inter doesn’t matter, their coach doesn’t matter – what matters is we’re ourselves. If we do that, job done. It’s not magic, it’s a game of football.
“They have the right to want to play the final but they should know that we have much, much desire to play the final in Madrid.
“I have a very good relationship with Jose Mourinho. We haven’t exchanged phone numbers but I consider him the best and we’ll try to beat him.”
Inter midfielder Thiago Motta turned up the war of words between the two clubs by hitting out at the Barca players.
“We will try and play clean football but we are accustomed to seeing Barca players diving and so we hope that the referee does his job well,” he said.
However, Motta’s manager Mourinho was more diplomatic in explaining the challenges he feels the referee will face.
“I told my players I want a clean game. What I’m worried about are the players who help the referees and those who make their lives difficult,” commented Mourinho.
“If Barcelona’s players want to do the same – easy for the referee.”
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