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What a third Champions League crown means to Jose Mourinho

Feb 12, 2013, 8:32 AM EDT

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Among the fascinating subplots to tomorrow’s titanic Champions League Clash, where Real Madrid and Manchester United meet in the Spanish capital, is Jose Mourinho’s march on legend status.

Yes, the man is full of bombast and bluster, and he might be more irritating than a nasty rash. But who can reasonably diminish his accomplishments? Winning a Champions League crown at relatively unheralded Porto was nothing short of stunning. He also won at Inter Milan, which has backslid since.

The long shadows may now be falling on Mourinho’s time at the Bernabeu. Little cracks are forming, the biggest indicated by Real Madrid’s inability to be competitive with major rival Barcelona in this year’s La Liga chase.

That doesn’t mean Mourinho and Madrid cannot still take European soccer by the scruff of the neck; Champions League provides that very opportunity. It’s provides the opportunity to show that Mourinho can still be a commanding force.

To put a finer point on it, he is striving to become the game’s first manager to claim Champions League glory at three different clubs. This piece from ESPN FC spells out exactly what that would mean – and what the missed opportunity would mean for Madrid’s 50-year-old manager.

The article wonders whether an “an inability to deliver the Champions League to Real Madrid constitute an ultimately failed period at the club?”

Of course, Manchester United stands in Mourinho’s way. Starting tomorrow.

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