Madrid: Real Madrid`s obsession with winning the 10th Champions League football tournament of their history has reached such levels that for several years they have had their own noun to describe the title.
The `Decima` has become the be-all and the end-all of Real Madrid`s season with an importance way above the final of the Copa del Rey final against city rivals, Atletico Madrid and the Spanish Primera Liga where they trail FC Barcelona by 13 points.
Every player who steps into a press conference and any player who gives an interview to the Madrid-based press knows they are going to be asked about their desire to win the `Decima` and that has allowed coach Jose Mourinho to make sweeping changes to the side he puts out for league matches with nobody raising an eyebrow.
Meanwhile, coach Jose Mourinho wants to be the first coach to win the Champions League with three different clubs, adding the European title with Real Madrid to those he has already won with Porto and Inter Milan.
Winning the Champions League would justify Mourinho`s tenure at Real Madrid. He inherited an expensive squad containing Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo - the two most expensive players in the world - and in his first season was beaten by Barca in the Champions League semifinal and in the league with just the Copa del Rey for compensation.
Last year did see Madrid win the league, taking advantage of the slight decadence of Pep Guardiola`s last season with the Catalans, but Europe again eluded Madrid as they lost to Bayern Munich on penalties in the semi-finals.
This season Barca are strolling to the league title and although Madrid are favourites to beat Atletico Madrid in the Cup, two Cups and one league title has to be seen as a poor haul for Mourinho and Madrid.
Add the `Decima` to that, however, and everything changes: Mourinho would go from being a relative failure to a success, he would be the man who brought that much-desired trophy `home` to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and that status would be raised still further should his side defeat Barca in either the semifinals or the final.
But Madrid have to take things step by step, starting with the return leg of their semifinal away to Galatasaray on Tuesday.
Following their 3-0 win in the first leg, it would take a disaster to see Madrid crash out, but Mourinho is taking no risks, Ronaldo rested for the first half of their 5-1 win over Levante on Saturday, while Mesut Ozil and Angel de Maria only played a handful of minutes and Sami Khedira never got on the pitch at all.
That shows Mourinho is taking no risks at all ahead of Tuesday and the side flew to Istanbul Sunday to assure time to prepare the game with four goalkeepers in the squad to cover for any possible eventuality - although without Kaka, who ended Saturday with muscular problems.
Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho are serious about the `Decima` and, as rumours about a return to the Premier league next season increases all the time, it looks as if he wants to leave Real Madrid with a going away present - something for them to remember him by.
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