Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has denied that any war of words with Jose Mourinho had led him to specially celebrate his two match-winning strikes in Wednesday night’s 3-1 win against Chelsea in Miami, adding that holding such grudges is “for losers”.
Ronaldo’s brace secured the International Champions Cup trophy for Madrid, in a game that was much hyped in Spain due to the tense relationship between former coach Mourinho and many of the players, fans, club executives and journalists.
This feeling was only increased by the new Chelsea manager’s apparently dismissive comments about his fellow Portuguese during an exclusive interview with ESPN last week as he described the Brazilian Ronaldo as the "real" version.
The former Manchester United man had responded in cryptic fashion during his own pre-game press conference but played down any idea of a feud between the pair when speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s game at the Sun Life Stadium.
"I like to do my talking on the field. Things that happen off it do not affect me or damage me,” Ronaldo said in Marca. “I aim to help Real Madrid to achieve its objectives and what happens away from there does not hurt me."
Mourinho tried to avoid further fanning the flames during his own post-game conference Wednesday, initially saying: "I don't know what Cristiano Ronaldo said, it's not my problem, I give my all for Chelsea," but when prompted again, had this to say.
"It's not my show. I said the true Ronaldo because he (Brazilian native, Ronaldo) was the first. If you ask me who is the true Mueller, Thomas or Gerd, I will say Gerd. For me he is the first because he came first. This is a show that Madrid has put together, Madrid is the city of movies."
Reports in the Spanish media said that Xabi Alonso and Fabio Coentrao were the only Madrid players to approach their former boss to talk after the game -- something taken as a sign of a fall-out during Mourinho’s stormy final season at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The press were also convinced that Ronaldo had celebrated his first goal -- a superb 20-yard free-kick -- by making a gesture towards Mourinho on the sideline.
However, the Portugal international denied both this and that he had snubbed his former boss after the game, adding that he was above such petty behaviour.
“I looked at the bench of my own team, at my team-mates [after scoring],” he said. “I did not acknowledge Mourinho [afterwards] because I did not see him, but I was with all the Chelsea technical staff. I do not hold a grudge. That is for losers.”
Madrid’s opening goal came from full-back Marcelo, who, according to onlookers pitchside, shouted ‘toma’ (‘take that’) towards the Chelsea bench as he returned to his own half after scoring.
The Brazil international claimed afterwards that he had dedicated the goal both to Madrid’s fans and to team-mate Angel Di Maria, who was at that point sitting among Madrid’s substitutes.
“They deserved it. They were supporting us and it seemed to me fantastic to be able to offer it to them and celebrate it with them,” Marcelo said in AS. “Although I dedicated it in a special way to Angel Di Maria.”
Marcelo also said that Madrid had been motivated for the game not by the chance to put one over their former boss but due to the trophy that had been on the line.
“We are playing well and that too is a reason to be satisfied, without caring who is the opponent and who is sitting on their bench,” he said. “We do not need to motivate ourselves because we could be playing against a team coached by Jose Mourinho. Completely the opposite: we did it because it is what we always do and we wanted to win the trophy. It is a very nice way of ending the tournament.”
Also in the spotlight during the game was Los Blancos goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was picked to start the game by new coach Carlo Ancelotti, having fallen out of favour with Mourinho last season.
‘San Iker’ was easily beaten by Ramires for Chelsea’s goal, but made a key save from Oscar in the second half when the score was 2-1.
Ancelotti, who did speak with Mourinho after the final whistle, said he had yet to decide who would be his first-choice ‘keeper when the competitive games started, while Diego Lopez would get another chance to impress in Madrid’s next friendly against Inter Milan on Saturday.
“[Casillas] made a great save in the second half and had a great match,” he said in AS. “Everyone did well. On Saturday Diego Lopez will play and we will see what happens in the first official match. It is not so important.”