BARCELONA - José Mourinho was in a calm mood in the Camp Nou's press room as he previewed Tuesday's night pick of the UCL Matchday 5 ties. "Even if we didn't need points, for me a Champions League game is always a Champions League game, Barça are always Barça and I'm approaching this difficult game with happiness and serenity," said the Inter coach.
"The only doubt I have for tomorrow is Sneijder. He still hasn't trained. Two or three days ago I thought there would have been encouraging developments, but there haven't been. He's still doubtful, but it's a doubt I want to dispel tonight after the training session. It's not something I want to carry over to tomorrow. My preparations for the match won't depend on the presence of Messi. Chivu will play on the right, so it's Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu, then the others... I have forgotten them. Zanetti? He's important, he's the history of Inter."
For the second time this season, Mourinho and the Nerazzurri will see their ex-companions Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell. "What will I say to Zlatan? We will give each other a hug before the game and another after, as always," said Mourinho. "This match will be difficult from every point of view because Barça are strong as a team and individually, because this isn't a normal stadium - it's a voice of one hundred thousand people who want to play and win, who put real pressure on everyone, even the referee, for whom it's not easy to make decisions. It will be a difficult pressure, but a pressure that we have to face with decision and serenity. We spoke about it today with the players, I'm expecting the right reaction from them."
There's no lack of pressure on Barcelona, either. "Inter won't be knocked out tomorrow, but there's a small chance Barça will be," Mourinho reminded the press. "There's a bit more pressure on our opponents than on us, but it's also true that our final home match is against Rubin Kazan who will be motivated after winning the Russian title. Football is made up of situations, of sometimes unexpected events. Before the first leg I thought that only me and Guardiola had respect for the other two group opponents. Everyone was saying it would be a two-horse race between Inter and Barça, but now Inter and Barça risk getting knocked out by Rubin and Dynamo Kiev."
Mourinho has no doubts that tomorrow night's clash will be a real battle, regardless of who plays: "Ibrahimovic and Messi? The Barça doctor is wizard. I think they'll both play... But, with or without Ibra, with or without Messi, it will still be a true match. When I played against Barcelona without Makelele and Essien, no one said it would be a true match. When we played in Manchester without the best Inter, everyone said it was a true match so we have the certainty that we are playing better than last season. This is what we were trying to do and this is what we're doing."
José Mourinho's spell at Barcelona began in 1996 and the Portuguese coach hasn't forgotten about his time in Catalonia. But there's only one team in his mind now. "I thank the Spanish club because they gave me the chance to work here for four years. It was an important experience, but then I faced Barca six times with Chelsea and tomorrow I will do it for the second time with Inter. These are important and decisive games during which I forget I had a story with Barça. I am body, heart and soul for Inter. Maybe in the future I will return here with another team, but always with the same spirit: thank you to Barca, but I want to win."