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Nov 30, 2012

Mourinho: Form counts for nothing

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho accepts that visitors Atletico Madrid arrive at the Bernabeu for Saturday night's city derby in better form, but says that will not count for much once the game begins.

• Blog: Crunch in Madrid
• Blog: Mourinho's cup half full
•  Preview: Real v Atletico

For a change this year, it is the visitors who come into the game ahead in the Primera Division standings, with hosts Madrid eight points behind after last week's surprise 1-0 loss at Real Betis, giving Colchoneros fans hope of a first win over their neighbours since 1999.

The Portuguese coach said "anything can happen" in derbies, and past history or recent performances were unimportant.

"Atletico have had difficulties here, and they will want to take advantage of their current good form to end a negative run," Mourinho said. "We are coming from a game which was not good. On a football level, it is an interesting moment. But a derby is a derby, the situation is not important. Last year we were far in front and knew anything could happen, so we had to respect Atletico. Now it is them who have more points, who are second. But it is a derby like always, and we want to win."

With Barcelona first in action on Saturday evening at home to Athletic Bilbao, Tito Vilanova's side could be 14 points ahead of Madrid before the derby begins. Win or lose there will still be a long way left in the title race, though.

"You count up the points at the end of the season," he added. "You do not have to be a mathematician to know that 14 points is different than eight points. Game by game, competition to competition, we always play with the intention to win the game."

The former Porto Chelsea and Inter boss insisted he was not worried about fans whistling him personally (as happened during Tuesday's humdrum 3-0 win Copa del Rey win over Alcoyano), but hoped Madrid's supporters would get behind their team during the game.

"If people want to whistle they should whistle me before the game, but during the game they should support the team," he said. "Last week the Betis fans were against their team, their players, their coach (after losing 1-5 to Sevilla in the derby), but they supported their team during the game. I only want our fans to help their team achieve its objectives."

When asked his view on the Madrid players, including captain Iker Casillas and midfielder Xabi Alonso, who have publicly supported their coach since the Betis game, Mourinho claimed he was more interested in his team showing their full commitment on the pitch.

"It is important to me that they do their work on the pitch, that they die to win," he said. "It is important they have the same mentality as me, that they give everything for 90 minutes. Words are not so important to me."

Mourinho's only real selection decision looks between Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric for the playmaker role, with Karim Benzema sure to start up front as Gonzalo Higuain remains out with a thigh injury.

Ricardo Carvalho has been called into the match-day squad, with Raul Albiol now facing up to four weeks out with the ankle strain picked up against Alcoyano. As Michael Essien was this week back at Chelsea receiving attention for an allergy, midfielder Jose Rodriguez, 17, has been called into the match squad after impressing in the Copa game.

"I see Jose Rodriguez with a good mentality and motivation," Mourinho said. "We had a spot left on the squad list and he has earned it thanks to the work he has done. I have no fear if he has to play."

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