Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho lavished praise on Barcelona's footballing culture, shortly after overseeing a 3-1 win that put the Champions League holders on the brink of elimination from the competition at the San Siro last night.
Although Inter took the upper hand in their semi-final, and will now be favourites to reach the final in Madrid, Mourinho remains in awe of the side he is plotting to take the title away from.
'Barcelona is a beautiful school of football,' he said after goals from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito countered Pedro's opener.
'You can go through the whole history of Barca - from the dream team with Cruyff, the team of (Louis) Van Gaal, (Frank) Rijkaard's Champions League winners, Pep's Champions League winners and then the person who comes after Pep.
'It's a football school, it's fantastic. This is a school that we are not at yet, but I hope that Inter can become this.
'Inter is a club which often changes its culture of game and coaches, or it used to change these.
'I hope Inter can find this stability in future, and they can do it with wins because wins are important for people to believe in a way of playing.'
On last night's evidence, Mourinho's Inter do not have too far to go if they are to convince Europe that they are on the right path.
Yet there is no guarantee that they will still overcome the final hurdle on the way to Madrid.
Mourinho said: 'We are not playing a small team, we are playing Barcelona; a great team with a great coach and great fans.
'We go to Barcelona and we are ahead, and we want to go into the final, but we are not there yet.'
At least at the Nou Camp Barcelona will not have a 14-hour coach journey behind them, as the flight restrictions ensured they had this time, and they will be able to dictate the kind of conditions they want to play in.
Guardiola said: 'The pitch was not wet as we like it because they had chosen not to water it, and it is their right to do that.
'But it did not favour our game.
'We were only really concentrating for the last 20 minutes, but this is the way it went.
'The return leg should be a different story, though.
'We are an exemplary team in many, many ways.
'I am proud of how my team is and congratulate Inter in Milan and we'll see you again next Wednesday.
'The stadium will be full and we can do it.'