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Mourinho: “Our 2011-12 Real Madrid was the best team in Europe”

The Portuguese coach talked to MARCA and remembered his three seasons as the coach of Real Madrid.

Real Madrid CF v RCD Mallorca - Liga BBVA Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Tottenham coach Jose Mourinho has talked in an interview with MARCA now that it’s been eight years since his Real Madrid team conquered the 2011-2012 Liga title at San Mames. That team was truly special. Mourinho and his players were able to beat the best FC Barcelona in the history of football and only a penalty shoot-out against Bayern Munich prevented them from having a chance to play the Champions League Final.

“Ending that Barcelona dominance and doing it by achieving a record points tally and a record goals tally like that makes it even more interesting and important because we did it in the best way possible. It wasn’t only that we won LaLiga, it’s that we did it in a way that made history,” said Mourinho about the Liga title.

The tie against Bayern in the Champions League Semifinals was a huge disappointment for the Portuguese coach, who revealed in this same interview that he cried after the loss.

“That season, Real Madrid were the best team in Spain and also the best in Europe. That’s why it was so hard for us to deal with going out to Bayern in the Champions League. Unfortunately, that’s football. Cristiano, Kaka, Sergio Ramos... three complete monsters of football, there’s no doubt about that, but they’re also human. That night is the only time in my career as a coach that I’ve cried after a defeat. I remember it well... Aitor Karanka and I pulled up in front of my house, in the car, crying,” he says.

Mourinho explained how he built a team able to compete against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

“I think it was fundamental that we were able to find a way of playing that we were the best at. We built a playing identity that was very suited to the conditions and the quality of the players. Of course, the enormous talent of all those great players and the understanding between them in every game was key, that is the most important thing for me. Everyone was very unified and connected by a great ambition of being champions,” explained the coach.

The 1-2 away win at the Camp Nou that all but clinched the Liga title for Real Madrid after Cristiano Ronaldo’s game-winning goal remains a key moment in Madrid’s recent history. Mourinho explains that he prepared the game telling his players that they were going to win.

“They are good memories. We played against Barcelona in search of two results because a win was good to us, but so was a draw. We prepared that game at the Camp Nou well. I repeatedly said to my players: ‘We’re going to win this game, we’re going to win it’. They had the emotion and, above all, the pressure. They were playing at home and we were going to kill them in the transition. When they equalised, that was what happened. In the end, emotion lost in favour of reason,” he adds.

Mourinho was asked about the most important player of that team and refused to name one individual in true Mourinho-phylosophy.

“I don’t like to speak about individuals, not Cristiano, not anyone. Each player was very important because each one of them had a very clear role within the team. They all wanted to win games, trophies and they all knew that they were important because they saw that they were contributing towards reaching that objective. For example, in this sense, I remember [Jose] Callejon and [Esteban] Granero, who didn’t start but were very important players for us. The truth is that team deserved to win LaLiga and the Champions League,” says the coach.

His Real Madrid was often labeled as a defensive-minded team even though they scored 121 goals during the 2011-2012. Mourinho doesn’t care about the reputation of that team and knows that it was a thrilling transition football to watch.

“No, look, I’m not saying anything... The history is there and there’s nothing better I can say than that. In the end, it all comes down to that, what stays in the history books. Well, that and the children of those that, throughout my coaching career, I’ve been able to help improve and become a somebody in the world of football,” concluded the coach.

Mourinho’s Real Madrid competed head to head against Guardiola’s Barcelona and built the foundation for Carlo Ancelotti to create an even better team capable of winning La Decima. It’s clear that he will go down as one of the reasons why Madrid dominated this past decade in Europe.

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