I think I will be at Madrid next season -- Mourinho
In each of his previous two appearances in the Champions League final, it was already an open secret that, win or lose, Jose Mourinho was preparing for the next challenge in his remarkable coaching career.
The vacancy at Chelsea has ensured that his future is again the subject of fervent debate, but, with Real Madrid just 180 minutes away from delivering Mourinho a record-equalling third European Cup, he has given the clearest sign yet that he will stay.
"I have a contract and there is no reason why I wouldn't stay," he said. "It is better to stay at a club for four or five years. At the moment my future is not important, but I think I will be here next season."
As ever with Mourinho, the context is everything. Having spent much of the season at war with the Madrid-based media and flirting with a return to the Premier League, his stock could hardly now be higher.
Victory at Barcelona on Saturday has all but secured Real their first La Liga title since 2008.
Madrid do face a 2-1 first-leg deficit ahead of tonight's Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich, but, as Mourinho was happy to point out, the truest test of a team is in their domestic league.
"I don't know if the Champions League is really more important than the league, because the best team always wins the league and this isn't always the case in Europe," he said.
Should Madrid convert their seven-point lead over Barca, it would be the seventh time that Mourinho has won the domestic league title in his nine completed seasons in management.
Yet it is in the Champions League that history really beckons. Overcome Munich tonight and Mourinho would have the chance to match Bob Paisley's record of three European Cups.
In Mourinho's case,the achievements are spread across three clubs and three countries.
Mourinho, though, seemed to recall the defeats most acutely yesterday and highlighted his "bad luck" in having also lost at the semi-final stage of the competition three times.
"The final of the Champions League is the most important game in football," said Mourinho. "Tonight is almost like a long-awaited final, but I see calmness in the players."
Unlike Mourinho, who had Saturday's showdown against Barcelona, Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes has been able to rest key players from domestic competition since last week's first leg.
Heynckes, however, has had to deal with the extraordinary fallout from a confrontation between Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery during last week's first-leg win. It was reported in Germany that Ribery even aimed a punch at Robben during half-time, with a club spokesman simply responding by saying that "whatever happens in the locker room stays there." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich,
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