Jose Mourinho says he is feeling calm about the first leg of Manchester United's last 16 Champions League tie against Sevilla, insisting it's only when you reach the quarter-finals of the competition that you can dare to dream about winning it.
Mourinho is not expecting that kind of scoreline this time around, but says he and his players are focused on the job in hand and are determined to book a place in the last eight.
“I'm calm and I think it's the way to be,”he told MUTV.
“It’s an important match, the first half of a knockout match if you want to say that. It's important to be calm and to be ready for the dimension of the game, but controlling emotions because it’s a game where we have to be at the top of our level.It’s a really difficult stadium to play at because it’s a stadium where the fans love the knock-out competition. They are called a knockout team because they are normally very successful, in the domestic cups also and especially in the Europa League. The crowd plays the game, they don’t come here just to watch, they come here to play the game and put lots of pressure on the opponent and the referee’s decisions.
“I said before that any team which reaches the quarter-finals has a chance,”he added.
“I never thought I was going to win it with Inter or Porto before reaching the quarter-finals and it's when you reach the quarter finals that you have the feeling that anything can happen. Nothing will change, the dynamic is nothing will change. The normal tendencies of some clubs are in this moment more ready to win it. But I think when you reach the quarter-finals, that's when any team can feel that anything can happen. So I think this step from going to the last 16 to eight teams is always an important step.”
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“For me, the word 'favourite' or 'no favourite' means nothing.They have good defensive organisation, they defend with everybody. [Sevilla boss Vincenzo] Montella is Italian - Italian coaches know how to organise their teams very compact from the defensive point of view. I can see easily now the distances between the wingers and the full-backs are much shorter. The wingers drop back to compact with the full-backs - not like in England, because in England, some experts that never sit on the bench, they say wingers shouldn't defend and the midfield players should only attack. But that's only in England in this moment, with this generation of experts.
“With Sevilla I don't think it's possible to score many goals and I think the game is going to be really competitive because they can say what they want, they can be nice to us and say we are favourites. That means absolutely nothing. I think I prefer to say they have good players and a good team and a good mentality for the knockout matches. Sevilla is a club of cups, a club that likes and enjoys the Copa del Rey, enjoys the Europa League and now they have the chance to play in the biggest competition of all, so the motivation is obviously even bigger.”
Recalling that previous triumph in Seville with Porto, Jose reflected:
“I have to say the Uefa Cup success in 2003 meant a lot because it was the first time I was playing in a European competition with a very young team and a very inexperienced team. For us to reach that final and win meant a lot. I know I had big victories here against Sevilla but I also lost and honestly I'm not the kind of guy to be thinking that what happened had any influence. I just think that on Wednesday and in a few weeks at Old Trafford, the two teams are very balanced, I would say the same chances for both, but we want to try. We want to go with everything and we are confident that over two legs we can do it.”