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Mourinho and Madrid: The story so far

Since Jose Mourinho took over at Real Madrid there has only ever been one objective - to end Barcelona’s golden era.

Mourinho was starting yet again with a new team, and settling back into Spain, with the aim to be the best. But could he do it in a year?

Many pundits would suggest that winning the Serie A, Coppa Italia, and most notably, the Champions League with Inter Milan - in his soon to be new home stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu - would be a decent basis for further successes as a manager. Especially at a club like Real Madrid.

Then again, Mourinho is no stranger to success, having enjoyed previous honours with Porto and Chelsea and Inter.

The special one auditioned well for one of the biggest managerial contracts in world football.

No matter how special the Portuguese manager may have branded himself, he could not conquer Barcelona’s dominance single-handedly. Mourinho became the 11th man to be named Madrid manager in seven years - a period of transition for the club which saw the death of their very own 'Galacticos' era.

Big signings 

Now it was Mourinho’s turn. The summer of 2010 saw much movement towards the Bernabeu. Mourinho had Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka at his disposal, signed for £80m and £56m the previous year, and German internationals Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil were signed after impressive World Cup campaigns, as well as flamboyant Argentine Angel Di Maria from Benfica.

Ricardo Carvalho, who was an integral part of Mourinho’s past successes in Portugal and England, was also signed as Mourinho sought to bolster his ailing defence.

The world did not have to wait too long to see how Mourinho’s new look side would fare against the club's arch-rivals. In November 2010, Barcelona demolished his side 5-0 at the Nou Camp. The team was heavily criticised, but Mourinho’s tactics and approach were questioned more.

The season progressed and, despite a few slip ups, Madrid kept within touching distance of Barcelona in La Liga, before eventually falling short by four points.

Despite losing out to the arch enemy in La Liga and the Champions League, Mourinho’s men ruined Barcelona’s dreams of the ‘treble’ by defeating them in the final of the Copa Del Rey. It was the 18th time that the Madrid club had won this particular competition, but the first for Mourinho. This capped the first trophy of his reign and the realisation that Barcelona were not unstoppable.

The Copa Del Rey final was the second of four El Clasico fixtures to be played within the span of just 18 days and controversy was almost inveitable, especially when a Champions League final place was up for grabs.

Controversial Champions League clash 

Madrid lost out over the two legs (3-1) but it was the first leg that was the most controversial.

Portuguese defender Pepe was dismissed following an alleged dangerous tackle on Dani Alves. Cynicism and controversy ensued when the Brazilian returned to the pitch within minutes of Pepe’s sending-off, which resulted in Jose Mourinho being sent to the stands and later being suspended from the touchline for five European matches for questioning Barcelona’s relationship with European football's governing body.

In the same tie there were allegations made against Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets for apparently making a racist slur towards Madrid left-back Marcelo. The incident was apparently caught on camera, but UEFA dismissed the allegations after opening disciplinary proceedings against the young Spaniard saying that the case lacked strong and convincing evidence.

It is fair to say that the 2010-2011 season marked a huge transition for Real Madrid. The quality of football and depth of the squad was there for everybody to see. Two legends of the famous all white kit, Jose Maria Gutierrez and Raul departed after having their contracts cancelled by the Madrid hierarchy.

The club were headed in a new direction under Mourinho and the new blood he injected into the club with his signings, including newer additions in Fabio Coentrao, goal poacher Jose Callejon and the experienced Hamit Altintop, meant that Madrid boasted even more power and experience in numbers.

Now, heading into the 2011-2012 having pipped Barcelona for one trophy already, the hunt was on for the La Liga and Champions League titles.

And both campaigns started with a bang. The whites scored 10 goals in their first two La Liga matches, demolishing Real Zaragoza 6-0 and Getafe 4-2 respectively.

Mourinho’s side recorded an unblemished Champions League group stage, notching six wins in a row and the maximum of 18 points.

However, in mid-September Los Merengues dropped five points away from home, losing 1-0 to Levante and drawing 0-0 away to Racing Santander.

Ten straight victories to lead La Liga race title

Despite a tiny blip in these two ties, Madrid would go on to record 10 straight victories. Rayo Vallecano felt the backlash of those two woeful performances, losing 6-2. Madrid were now scoring freely, with a 7-1 mauling of Osasuna, and they also brushed aside Malaga 4-0 and Athletico Madrid 4-1.

Another Clasico was Mourinho's biggest test to date as Real Madrid boss. Despite opening the scoring in the opening stages through Karim Benzema, Madrid found themselves on the receiving end of a disappointing 3-1 loss.

It was perhaps a humbling moment for all involved with the club, ut it did not knock them off of their stride as they went on to record 11 straight domestic wins.

The Champions League was becoming a similar story. Madrid overcame CSKA Moscow with relative ease before easily defeating APOEL to progress to the semi-finals for the second time in as many years under Mourinho. Madrid were defeated at the Allianz Arena and now their fate rested upon securing the right result at home in the Bernabeu.

Mourinho had defeated Bayern almost two years before, but this time around his side could not turn the tables on the German outfit. Despite winning 2-1 on the night, Bayern went through on penalties.

Mourinho knew, however, that it was not all doom and gloom. Having just returned to the Nou Camp and returned triumphant with a 2-1 victory, the La Liga title was in sight. Victories against Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao in the coming days would make it official. And they did it, almost effortlessly without reaching their top gear as Madrid eased past both sides with 3-0 victories.

Ronaldo, Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain made more history for the Whites by scoring 20 or more goals each in the same season in the Liga, epitomising Real’s own brand of attacking football which has entertained fans all season long.

Real Madrid rounded off their domestic campaign in style with a 4-1 home win against Mallorca. The next step forward for the side would be to retain the La Liga title and add a Champions League triumph to their honours list next season.

By Lewis Fowler

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