Jose Mourinho suggested that La Liga’s scheduling is unfair to Real Madrid after their costly 1-0 defeat to Real Betis.
Los Blancos title hopes suffered a huge blow at the Estadio Benito Villamarin last night. The loss was surprising – given that Betis were beaten 5-1 by Sevilla a week ago – and controversial – given that Madrid’s Karim Benzema had a seemingly legitimate goal ruled out.
“I try to be objective and fair when my team loses and try not to look for excuses,” said the Portuguese tactician in his post-match Press conference. “But it’s obvious that a player who plays on Wednesday shouldn’t play today.
“Other teams have more control over the schedule than we do. But we are talking about professionals and if you are more tired than normal you have to use other qualities like ambition, sacrifice and mental strength. When I see a sportsman like [Radek] Stepanek, who played three Davis Cup matches in three days, don’t tell me that younger players can’t play Wednesday and Sunday.
“I am the only one talking about the schedule, like after the match in Manchester I was the only one talking about the referee, therefore I am the bad guy in this story.”
Mourinho made a point of shaking hands with the Betis players and applauding their fans.
“I congratulated the Betis players because they gave it their all and fought from the first minute to the last with a great spirit of sacrifice. They aren’t to blame for Benzema’s goal being ruled out or the clear penalty in the last minutes of the match. Despite benefitting from the referee’s two mistakes, they deserved to win.
“I waved to the Betis fans because they are fantastic. After a difficult week in which there has been conflict with some of their players, they were able to be fans and help the team win.”
Barcelona will go 11 points clear of Madrid at the top of La Liga if they defeat Levante later today but, whilst acknowledging the fans scepticism, Mourinho isn’t willing to write off his troop’s chances.
“Last season we had ten more points than our opponents in March, then drew two matches and the situation became complicated. Maybe at the end of the year we will be 11, 13, 9, 8 or 12 points behind. We are not going to be three, four or five behind. It’s wide open, but let’s not be too optimistic or pessimistic. At this point last season our fans were more optimistic, it’s understandable that now they are pessimistic and think we can’t go on to win.”