Sport Soccer

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Mourinho fumes over Barca's 'gift' from opponents

Pete Jenson in Barcelona

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has accused teams in Spain of lying down against Barcelona, making his own team's assault on the league title that bit more difficult.

In midweek, Barcelona beat an under-strength Sporting Gijon 1-0, as their coach Manuel Preciado -- with the prospect of three games in seven days -- rested half his first team.

Mourinho was asked how many points his team would need to win the league and went straight on the attack, targeting the way Sporting had changed their team, much as Mick McCarthy's Wolves did last season against Manchester United.

Mourinho said: "I don't know how many points we will need, but if teams are going to gift matches by putting second teams out because they think that they have no chance of winning ... if a lot of teams do that, then it will be more difficult for us to win the league."

Sporting boss Preciado has said he will answer Mourinho when the two men come face to face in the second week in November.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola defended Preciado. "All teams deserve to be respected," he said.

The Real Madrid boss has also taken on his players this week, refusing to give in to their petition for a later start to training sessions so they could take their children to school.

The request made by captain Iker Casillas on behalf of the squad was given short shrift by Mourinho, who has also admitted that some players do not like his insistence that the team spends the night before home games in a Madrid hotel.

However, he has no intention of changing his regime.

Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente, who has scored three goals in four games so far this season, will be hoping to add to his tally against a Barca side still missing the injured Leo Messi.

Barca and Athletic -- along with Real Madrid the only clubs never to have been relegated -- play each other 27 years and a day since Athletic's Andoni Goikoetxea savaged Diego Maradona, then of Barcelona, putting him out of action for four months.

Messi's ankle ligaments were damaged by Atletico Madrid's Tomas Ujfalusi last Sunday but he was back in light training yesterday and could even return for Barca's Champions League trip to Russia on Wednesday.

Levante v Real Madrid,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 7.0

Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 9.0

Irish Independent

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