Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has blamed himself for his side’s shock 3-2 loss to Real Zaragoza in La Liga on Saturday.The tempestuous coach, who hugged the headlines during the week for his rant against Spanish champions and Real’s bitter rivals Barcelona, admitted his usually effective motivational skills failed him for the Zaragoza clash.
“Our rivals fought hard. It was a decisive game for them to stay in the Primera (Liga) and that is what happens when a team goes into a game well and the other side doesn’t,” Mourinho said.
“Today the coach was not able to motivate his players in the first half. The second half was good, but we gifted them three goals. They played with time on their side and had some luck.”
The former Chelsea and Inter boss rested Cristiano Ronaldo for the clash against the relegation-threatened Zaragoza, who were fourth from bottom before the start of the match.
“This team won in Valencia and in Bilbao, which are two difficult grounds. I have a clean conscience about that and I didn’t want to gift anything to Zaragoza or any of the other sides fighting to avoid relegation.”
And he defended his decision not to field his strongest eleven, which resulted in the side contriving to concede two first-half goals which was to be the foundation of their 3-2 defeat.
“This was a good day to gain confidence and for the players to show they can be first choice. It was my decision to leave Ronaldo out, I have (Gonzalo) Higuain and (Karim) Benzema and I saw them looking very motivated.”
Brazilian playmaker Kaka, who enjoyed a rare start for Real, accused his side of nonchalance.
“I think that we were really lazy in the first-half and showed a lack of spirit. We were slack. It cannot happen again this season,” Kaka told AS.
“You can lose points but not with the attitude we showed in the first-half. No matter what happens, you have to change that, as we did in the second-half.”
But despite the points disparity with table-topping Barcelona, who also happened to drop points in their encounter with Real Sociedad, the former World Player of the Year remains optimistic Madrid are still a chance for both the title and the Champions League.
“We believe in the comeback in Europe and in the league. As long as it is not beyond us mathematically, Madrid cannot stop fighting. We cannot go wrong the way we did today on Tuesday (for the second leg against Barcelona),” he said.
Defender Sergio Ramos echoed Kaka’s sentiments, insisting Madrid were not resigned to losing the Champions League semi-final tie as projected by Jose Mourinho in the post-game press conference.
“We have to change our mentality now to concentrate on the Champions League. It’s obviously difficult, but we will try to turn the score around. We wouldn’t even travel to Barcelona if we thought there was no chance,” the World Cup winner said.