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Mourinho on a mission to spur Tottenham's revival

AP/London
Filed on November 25, 2019
Tottenham's coach Jose Mourinho (second right) keeps an eye on his team players during a training session ahead of their match against Olympiakos. - AFP

Three teams have already qualified after four of the six rounds in the Champions League: Bayern, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

Jose Mourinho has his first home game in charge of Tottenham against Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday

Jose Mourinho's charm offensive has been in overdrive during his whirlwind first few days at Tottenham.

He has lauded Tottenham's training complex as being "second to none" and without comparison across Europe "at any level." He says he has slept in the club's pajamas at its on-site hotel which he rates as "six star," with its "soft pillows, amazing duvet."

Now it's time for a first taste of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - "the best stadium in the world," he has purred - as Mourinho continues his quest to win over fans who might still be skeptical about his appointment.

Getting the team through to the knockout stage of the Champions League wouldn't do him any harm in the ingratiation process.

Three days after guiding Spurs to a Premier League victory at West Ham in his first match since replacing Mauricio Pochettino, Mourinho will take charge of them in a home match for the first time when Olympiakos visits Tuesday in the Champions League.

A victory guarantees progress out of Group B alongside Bayern Munich with a game to spare. It would complete a decent week's work for Mourinho as he attempts to rebuild his coaching reputation after a fractious, and ultimately disappointing, two-and-half year spell at Manchester United that ended almost 12 months ago.

The Portuguese coach hugged his players and kept a respectful distance from the travelling Spurs fans while he celebrated the 3-2 win against West Ham on Saturday. It might take some time for them to accept Mourinho and take him to their hearts, especially considering the work Pochettino did in raising standards at Tottenham - even getting the team to a Champions League final last season when they lost to Liverpool.

Mourinho has done that with Porto and Inter Milan, winning the title match on both occasions, so is seeking to become the first manager to win European club soccer's biggest prize with three different clubs - all from different countries. None of them could be classed as modern-day continental heavyweights, either, making that achievement all the more impressive.

"The gaffer's won at every club he's gone to - there's no hiding away from that," Tottenham striker Harry Kane said. "He wants to win. He's a proven winner. I've made it clear that I'm at the stage of my career where I want to win trophies.

"Realistically we look at the Champions League and the FA Cup this season to try and do that ... You could say that (Mourinho could make the difference) because of his reputation." It's been three days so, until we build that relationship and see how things get on over the next two or three months, we won't really know."

The closest Mourinho has come to winning the Champions League since that 2010 triumph with Inter was a trio of semifinal appearances - all with Real Madrid - in 2011, '12 and '13. He got Manchester United out of its group last season, only to get fired before the knockout stages even began.

If he was happy to be back in the Premier League - his "natural habitat," he called it - at the weekend, imagine how he will feel making a return to the Champions League arena.

Three teams have already qualified after four of the six rounds of games: Bayern, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

Seeking a win to advance along with Juventus in Group D, Atletico Madrid is well aware of the dangers of a rested Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo took some time off before the second leg of the last 16 in the Champions League last season and responded with a hat trick against the Spanish team as Juventus overturned a 2-0 deficit.

Ronaldo was rested again at the weekend, for Juve's 3-1 win at Atalanta, as he continues to recover from a knee injury.

Ronaldo showed little sign of any problem while playing for Portugal in the recent European Championship qualifiers, scoring a hat trick in one match and also netting in another.

Juventus is looking to secure top spot in the group with a win on Tuesday.

Group C leader Manchester City will advance by beating Shakhtar Donetsk at home on Tuesday. Liverpool has a one-point lead over Napoli heading into their meeting Wednesday in Group E, in which Salzburg is a further four points back before its game against out-of-contention Genk.

In Group H, Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia are all on seven points. Valencia hosts Chelsea on Wednesday, when Ajax travels to Lille.

In Group G, Leipzig and Lyon can advance by beating Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg, respectively, on Wednesday.

TUESDAY MATCHES:

Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayer

Galatasaray v Club Brugge

Real Madrid v PSG

Tottenham v Olympiacos 

Man City v Shakhtar Donetsk 

Juventus v Atletico Madrid

Crvena Zvezda v Bayern

Atalanta v Dinamo Zagreb

 


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