Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has admitted he is wary of the threat posed by Juventus in the Champions League.
The Serie A champions finished top of a difficult qualifying group to progress to the knock-out phase, and the Portuguese boss has acknowledged that Antonio Conte’s side will be tough to beat in this season’s tournament.
“I’ll be honest: I do not like [Juventus] because I’m afraid of them,” he said in an interview with Tuttosport. “And I say that Conte’s team can win the Champions League.
“It is a collective, an extremely compact, solid, almost unsinkable ship. Missing a top player in attack? That’s just as well, I believe. This means that the goals can come from anywhere and at any time: a midfielder, a striker from outside the box. I mean it: it does not matter if there is a [Karim] Benzema or [Gonzalo] Higuain in a team structured like that.
“This reminds me of my Porto in 2004. And if anyone, by chance, had forgotten, Porto won the Champions League final in Gelsenkirchen.”
Mourinho’s future at Santiago Bernabeu has been shrouded in uncertainty of late, with los Blancos having all-but surrendered their Liga crown to Barcelona amidst a string of controversial incidents, the latest being the decision to drop Iker Casillas from the side.
The former Chelsea trainer admitted he has been forced to reflect on his future after recent events, but stressed he remains committed to the Spanish capital club as they strive for their 10th European crown.
“After the defeat last Saturday in Malaga I’ve got to think long and deeply about my situation and Real Madrid,” Mourinho continued. “I spent Christmas in Portugal with my family and now I’m here in Dubai where I said goodbye to many friends.
“And I came to one conclusion: football changes, changes, changes, virtually every day, every minute, almost every second. But there is only one thing that does not change: the team is always the coach.”
When asked whether he would bid an early farewell to Real Madrid, he added: “I’ll answer by quoting a phrase of Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘I’m too old to quit.’ And I, if I may, I am still too ‘young’ to do so.
“My stated goal is to win a third Champions League with three different teams: with Real after Porto and Inter. No one has ever succeeded. And for Real Madrid it would be the 10th Champions League, the only team to reach double digits.”