Real coach Mourinho keeps mum before ‘Clasico’

Reuters, Friday 9 Dec 2011

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho remains silent ahead of Saturday’s anticipated clash against arch-rivals Barcelona

Jose Mourinho

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho will not be speaking at Friday’s regular pre-match news conference and his assistant, Aitor Karanka, will take questions instead on Saturday’s opening ‘Clasico’ of the campaign at home to Barcelona, Real said on their website (www.realmadrid.com).

Portuguese Mourinho has had a testy relationship with the Madrid-based media since joining from Inter Milan at the end of the 2009-10 season and declined to speak before a La Liga game against Barca in April, prompting a walkout by around 30 local journalists.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola is due to hold a news conference later on Friday.

With roughly a third of the season played, leaders Real have a three-point lead and a game in hand over second-placed Barca, who are chasing a club record-equalling fourth consecutive domestic league title.

Real have won their last 10 La Liga matches, and their last 15 in all competitions, while Barca have lost only one of 11 ‘Clasicos’ against their great rivals since Guardiola took the helm in 2008.

The former Barca and Spain midfielder has never lost at the Bernabeu as coach, boasting three wins and two draws with 13 goals scored and five conceded.

Mourinho has a full squad available except for Portugal centre back Ricardo Carvalho, who is recovering from twisted knee ligaments and has not played since late September.

Guardiola also has a full roster, apart from long-term absentee Ibrahim Afellay, who is recovering from knee surgery in his native Netherlands.

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