Champions League: Don't Bet Against Mourinho Having Last Laugh with Real Madrid

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterApril 29, 2013

Jose Mourinho can lift Real Madrid out of the shadow of the 4-1 defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semifinal first leg.
Jose Mourinho can lift Real Madrid out of the shadow of the 4-1 defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semifinal first leg.Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Even the man himself has no idea whether this will be the end or not. At least that's what he is saying in public.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has been strongly linked with a return to Chelsea in recent months, with German newspaper Bild (via The Mirror) claiming last week that the deal to bring the Portuguese football manager to Stamford Bridge along with Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao was already done.

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has denied he was the source of the leak to the German newspaper (The Metro) ahead of his team's Champions League semifinal second leg trip to the Bernabeu Stadium.

Throw into the mix are suggestions that Paris Saint-Germain manager Carlo Ancelotti is on his way to the Spanish giants (The Sun) and the indications are that Mourinho will be bidding farewell to Real in the summer.

Mourinho arrived in the Spanish capital in May 2010 (BBC Sport) and admitted his new role was a major challenge with Real so far behind La Liga rivals Barcelona.

Mourinho referred to it as "frustration," but, for the club and its supporters, lagging so far behind the Catalan team was a sleight on their history.

Successive La Liga wins in 2007 and 2008 were the only interruptions to a winless championship streak since 2003.

Mourinho missed out on the La Liga title in his first season in charge but did end an 18-year wait for a Copa Del Rey triumph.

Sure enough, his next mission was completed the following year with a title triumph over Pep Guardiola's all-conquering team.

It has been the Champions League where Mourinho has made his name following two wins with separate clubs, FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

But Mourinho has fallen agonisingly short in his desire to help Real lift the trophy for the first time since the Zinedine Zidane-inspired 2002 victory over Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

In 2011, Barcelona were too strong for Real in the semifinals and, at the same stage last season, Bayern Munich progressed at Mourinho's expense via a penalty shootout.

A week ago in the Westfalenstadion, Borussia Dortmund ran riot with striker Robert Lewandowski making his Champions League mark with a four-goal haul in the 4-1 win.

To any other manager, the result would have been a crushing blow, but Mourinho voiced his genuine belief immediately after the game that Real can still win the Champions League this season (ESPN).

When the former Chelsea manager sets his mind to something, the world and the opposition should take note.

The former Inter boss guided his team to a sensational 3-1 win over Barcelona in the semifinal first leg before his pragmatic approach denied Guardiola and his team in the Camp Nou.

Few expected Porto and Mourinho to floor Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson in the last 16 in 2004, but the Portuguese club and coach were more than a match for their illustrious opponents.

If this is to be Mourinho's swansong with Real, there would be no greater finale than to win UEFA's elite tournament, and one cannot help but feel that this semifinal is not yet finished.

If one man can, the Special One can.