Jose Mourinho hopes for a full-strength Barcelona to play in the Clasico as he targets Real Madrid continuing to improve their form.
The Coach took a softer pre-match approach to his rivals this time around, offering a pleasant response to questions about Barcelona’s defensive issues. Carles Puyol is out for eight weeks with a dislocated elbow, whilst Gerard Pique is doubt for the match as he continues his recovery from a sprained foot.
“For me I want all the players, because these are games that stop the world,” the Portuguese told reporters today.
“For Puyol I am glad that things are not as bad as they first looked and if Pique is a doubt then it is for a small thing. If he doesn’t recover in time then it will be in the final moments, so we are prepared.
“Last season in the League match with Barcelona Pique was fine and stayed on the bench. I cannot think for another Coach. Normally I know the opposing team an hour before the game when I have already provided my team too. I cannot work according to the opponent.
“We have our idea and the team is ready to play. Barcelona does not play a player then they have another and they have a squad that is more than capable of handling this type of problem that we all face throughout the season.”
Mourinho was asked of what sort of game to expect at the Camp Nou this Sunday.
“There is no pattern to these games. Both want to win the game and they are usually balanced and with balanced results, although sometimes this is not the case. But there is no pattern.
“Our concern is to play well and we are improving significantly if we compare the last few games with the first few.
“We want to continue to improve to the level that made us champions last season and to stay there as long as possible at that maximum level.
“We want continuity. I’m talking about organisation, good individual performances… We are at the beginning of the season, there are still many months of competition to come.
“The concern is to reach the levels of last season. We knew it would be difficult to maintain. The concern is to recover slowly and this match would be important in this regard.”
The Coach has altered the pre-match routine for this Clasico, choosing not to travel out to Barcelona the day before the game, instead journeying to the Camp Nou on the Sunday.
“The team liked it the last three or four times that we travelled away on the day we played and I also like to be in Madrid. Though the game is not too late, we have enough time.
“The games are easy to be psychologically prepared for, you do not need great tactic talks either. In games like this, just get there on time to play the game.
“The footballers arrive already very motivated. And the referees have to be motivated for the game.”
Mourinho was asked how the League would look if Real were to lose this weekend.
“Let me play the game first. Do not be so pessimistic.”
And if Real were to draw?
“I do not know, it depends on the game. If you play well and you have many chances to score and you draw, then it is terrible.
“If you get one chance and stick it in, you play badly…then the draw can be very good.”
The Coach refused on more than one occasion to discuss his possible line-up, avoiding questions on Fabio Coentrao, Mesut Ozil and Luke Modric in the process, as well as who will start between Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema.