Mourinho invokes Tony Soprano to focus players
Madrid: Jose Mourinho has invoked an expression common to fictional New Jersey Mafia boss Tony Soprano to remind his players of the importance of Tuesday`s King`s Cup last 32 first leg against lowly Real Murcia.
Under Mourinho`s predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, Real were humiliated 4-0 by Alcorcon, another third-tier side, in the same fixture last season and failed to turn the tie around at the Bernabeu to slump to an astonishing 4-1 aggregate loss.
Mourinho said after Real`s 6-1 La Liga thrashing of Racing Santander on Saturday he would give Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso and Ricardo Carvalho a few days off but planned to field the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo, who has netted eight goals in his last three league outings, and out-of-favour France striker Karim Benzema.
"If last year`s situation (at Alcorcon) repeats itself, I will cross those who play off my list because they will be dead to me," the flamboyant Mourinho told a news conference, invoking the main character in the hit U.S. TV series.
"Benzema will start and so will Ronaldo. It is a very important game to me," he added.
Real, whose match in Murcia kicks off at 1800 GMT, have not won the King`s Cup since 1993, while arch rivals Barcelona`s last triumph came in 2009 when they won an unprecedented treble of Champions League and Spanish league and Cup.
Pep Guardiola`s side have a short hop by helicopter to north Africa to the autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta where they take on the local side in their 6,500-capacity Alfonso Murube stadium on Tuesday (2000).
Barca`s Spain midfielder Xavi, who missed Saturday`s 2-0 La Liga win at Real Zaragoza, is still shaking off an Achilles problem and central defender Gabriel Milito is unlikely to have recovered from a thigh strain.
Midfielder Seydou Keita said on Sunday he was not relishing the helicopter ride across the Mediterranean.
"I don`t like aeroplanes and even less helicopters but we have to do it," the Mali international told a news conference.
In other first legs, holders Sevilla face Real Union (third tier) on Wednesday (1800).
There are two ties featuring clubs from the top flight as Hercules take on Malaga and Real Mallorca play Sporting Gijon, both on Wednesday.
The return legs are in the second week of November.