Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho has claimed the UEFA Champions League is "more important" than the World Cup as he prepares to lead his side into Saturday's final against Bayern Munich in Madrid.
Mourinho's belief is that club football is the pinnacle of the game because of the higher quality of teams that can be bought and built, rather than assembled from limited pools as in the international arena.
"This game is the most important in the world," Mourinho said on Tuesday. "It is even bigger than the World Cup because the teams in it are at a higher level than national teams, who can't buy the best players. If you hold it to be important, you have to transmit that to the players."
Inter have been criticised in their run to the final at the Santiago Bernabeu for playing negative football, with their rearguard effort to hold Barcelona to a 1-0 win at the Nou Camp with only ten men considered one of the best defensive performances in recent history. But Mourinho has refuted the claims, pointing to a number of matches when his side attacked the opposition, including in the first leg of the Barcelona semi-final when Inter achieved a 3-1 result that meant a loss at Nou camp would still send them through.
"I think that this season I haven't seen a match like the one between Inter and Barcelona at the San Siro," Mourinho said. "I haven't seen a team play the way we did. We attacked aggressively against the champions of Europe. We scored three goals against the champions of Europe.
"We won the tie in Barcelona, but everyone talks about Barcelona winning and says we parked the bus in front of the goal. We didn't park the bus, we parked the airplane and we did it for two reasons. One, because we only had 10 men and two, because we beat them 3-1 at San Siro, not by parking the bus, or the boat or the airplane, but by smashing them at the San Siro.
"I haven't seen anyone play the way we did against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea isn't a small team, it is the champion of England and no one plays like that at Stamford Bridge. Only we have played two games of the level we did against Chelsea and against Barcelona."
Mourinho was once again forced to answer questions about his personal future, as he is on a daily basis, but he hasn't changed his stance that he will make a decision on his widely expected move to Real Madrid after Saturday's final. Mourinho insisted the financial side of things would not influence his choice because he is already "embarrassed" by what he earns.
"It's not a problem of contract or money and that makes me slightly embarrassed because of what I earn considering the (world economic) crisis there is," said Mourinho. "It's a problem of personal satisfaction, to feel respected or not in a football nation where I have had so many problems.
"It's not true that I'm the Real coach. After the final, I want to think about my future. Obviously, Inter cannot do anything more to make me feel happy and feel important. The players are fantastic, so are the fans and everyone at the club. The result of Saturday's game means nothing."
He believes the club will make sure the right man is in charge if he does choose to depart. In true Mourinho style, he said: "My successor? The club chose me and chose well. At this time, I am the Inter coach. I have a contract until 2012 or 2013, I don't remember."