Jose Mourinho has revealed Brendan Rodgers congratulated him after Liverpool's 2-0 home loss to Chelsea on Sunday, despite post-match comments in which he slammed the Portuguese manager's tactics.
The Reds' title challenge took a major blow after their defeat to Chelsea and the Liverpool manager accused Mourinho of being overly negative in his pursuit of victory at Anfield, as reported by Chris McKenna in the Daily Star.
However, Mourinho revealed ahead of his side's Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday that Rodgers had in fact congratulated him privately—via text message—after the win, per Martin Lipton in The Mirror:
Brendan is somebody I consider my friend. I know what he said after the match, but I also know his words today.
He told me congratulations for a great victory and a great performance. So, because I consider him a friend, someone I like, I prefer to forget his words after the match and keep today’s words.
Rodgers worked under Mourinho in the Portuguese's first stint as Chelsea manager between 2004 and 2007 and is not the only person to have been critical recently of the 51-year-old's defensive tactics.
Chelsea took a 0-0 draw from their first leg against Atletico at the Vicente Calderon, a result after which many accused Mourinho of setting up in an overly negative way, content to simply stop Madrid form scoring rather than register a goal themselves.
Madrid-born journalist Jimmy Burns sums up the view of many concerning that display:
only Mourinho could reduce me to boredom in the vicente calderon— Jimmy Burns (@Jimmy_Burns) April 22, 2014
However, while Chelsea may not have played swashbuckling, attacking football against either Atletico or Liverpool, they did pick up two positive results, and they head into Wednesday's second leg as slight favourites to advance to the Champions League final.
Mourinho hit back at his critics on Tuesday, pointing out it would be stupid for his side not to play to their strengths, per Lipton's report:
You know, at this moment, football is full of philosophers - people who understand much more than me, people with fantastic theories and philosophies.
It’s amazing. But the reality is always the reality: A team that doesn’t defend well or doesn’t score lots of goals, if they concede lots of goals, is completely in trouble. A team without balance is not a team.
I remember saying in my first period here, If you have a goalkeeper like Petr Cech who puts the ball in the opponents’ box, and a striker like Didier Drogba who wins everything in the air, why play short? Because you are stupid?
Chelsea will be buoyed by the fitness of Eden Hazard, John Terry and Samuel Eto'o ahead of Wednesday's game, though first-choice keeper Petr Cech is not available to play, per Agence France-Presse's Tom Williams:
Mourinho says Petr Cech is not in a condition to play tomorrow, despite training earlier today.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) April 29, 2014
This will mean Mark Schwarzer will again have to deputise, as he did for much of the first leg in Madrid and against Liverpool, both performances in which the Australian shot-stopper excelled.
The Blues will also be without the suspended pair of Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel who picked up yellow cards in the first leg, while Atletico captain Gabi is out for the same reason.
While Chelsea may be slightly more attacking at Stamford Bridge—they need at least one goal to reach the final in Lisbon—they will be wary of conceding an away goal which would make Atletico favourites to take the tie.
Especially as Simeone's side boast the attacking prowess of the likes of Diego Costa, Chelsea will need to be tight at the back.
Thus, as ever, Mourinho will likely be very focussed on the organisation of his defence and could set up to hit Diego Simeone's side on the counter-attack, as they will be more open as they look for the elusive goal.