Jose Mourinho has established himself as the most reliable man in Europe if you are trying to get a team into the semifinals of the Champions League.
Chelsea has been matched up in the semifinals of the Champions League with Atletico Madrid, and in the Colchoneros they will find a formidable opponent. Cholo Simeone has perfected a version of Mourinhos high-pressure low-possession style and has made the Madrid side one of the most feared rivals in the continent. But Mourinho will have a few reasons on his side to tilt the balance his way.
Since the 2006-07, teams managed by the Portuguese coach have always but once made it to this juncture, but sadly for his statistic theyve only made it past it twice and actually gone all the way once, with Inter Milan. Plus, the other final his team made it through actually came about months after he left Chelsea –in the 2007/08 edition– and the Blues lost to Cristiano Ronaldos Manchester United in the final.
Since he won with the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010, Mourinho has been present in every single semifinal round, three times with Real Madrid and now with Chelsea. This year, in order to do so, he turned around what seemed like an impossible feat: PSG had beat Chelsea 3-1 at Parc Des Princes, and Mous men turned it around at Stamford Bridge to win 2-0.
As the Portuguese prepares his men for the battle against Atletico Madrid, he will most likely be thinking of the opportunities missed in the last few seasons with Real Madrid. Two years ago, the Merengues lost to Bayern Munich in the penalty kick round, while last year they were just one goal shy of turning around a 4-1 defeat in Dortmund.
This season with Chelsea has been much like a rollercoaster. Mourninho came back to the Europa League winner, after Rafa Benitezs triumphant 6 month spell at the club, and found a semi-built roster, but also some of his most trusted competitive machines from his previous stint at the club were still fully functioning.
At the start of the previous season, Di Matteo had tried to renew the lineup and took the chance pulling from his call-up lists players like John Terry, Frank Lampard or Ashley Cole. Things didnt really work out for him, and while Mourinho has given the new blood in the squad a chance, his back bone continues untouched: Cech, Terry, Lampard, Luiz plus Samuel Etoo. The Cameroonian was the surprise late signing of the club, but Mourinho knew him from their time at Inter Milan.
Although the start to the season was a bit iffy, little by little Mourinho has turned his team into a pressure cooker that can roll past any team without the need of playing beautiful soccer, and thats something that serves to prove the Portugueses still –love it or hate it– is as effective as any other.
Mourinho is convinced if he can get a group of players to fully and unconditionally believe in him, he can make them competitive. While he never managed to get Real Madrids players to commit in that way –and thats the reason why things didnt work out for him in Spain–his time at Chelsea and Inter prove he is worth the wait for a club that wants silverware.