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By ESPN Staff

Mourinho lauds Redknapp

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has praised Tottenham counterpart Harry Redknapp for his achievements at White Hart Lane and is looking forward to congratulating his friend in person after seeing the two clubs paired together in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Mourinho, who had hoped to avoid former clubs Inter Milan and Chelsea, said of the draw: "I'm very happy to play them, not because I think it's going to be easy - because I don't think it will be - but because I get to go back to London, to an English stadium and I get to see Harry and I can congratulate him for the great job he's done.

"I left England in 2007-08 and Spurs were not in the UEFA Cup, they were not even finishing in the first six of the Premier League. Martin Jol started the good work and Harry has continued it in amazing ways. I'm so happy for that. He's a friend, one of the few really good friends I made in England.

"What they've done is brilliant. They beat Inter, then they played the team who have won the European Cup the second highest number of times, AC Milan, and now they play Real Madrid, the champion of champions, who have won nine European Cups.

"It will be difficult. I know the mentality of the English teams, the way they play at home, and the character they have of playing with all their heart in every minute of every game. They have beaten Inter, knocked out Milan and are having a very good Premier League season.''

Mourinho also preferred not to look ahead to a possible semi-final showdown with Madrid's arch-rivals Barcelona.

"The possibility of a Madrid-Barca semi-final is the same as a Tottenham-Shakhtar one. It's not worth talking about a semi-final when you don't know what teams are going to be there,'' added Mourinho, who is looking to become the first coach to conquer Europe with three different clubs.

Before Madrid get back into European action they face a local derby with Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.

Madrid, who have not lost to their neighbours since 1999, could find themselves eight points adrift of Primera Division leaders Barcelona at kick-off if the Catalan club defeat Getafe earlier in the evening.

Question marks surround the fitness of Madrid's top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who played three-quarters of Wednesday's Champions League win over Lyon after returning from a hamstring strain, and Mourinho will not name his squad for the game until the day itself.

Mourinho said of Ronaldo: "It would be better if the derby was on Sunday. It's normal that after so much time without training and then playing 70 minutes against Lyon he's not in the best condition. If he plays it will be with a risk.''

Nevertheless, Mourinho insists he will "play with the best possible team'' against Atletico.

He said: "With respect to the fans we cannot joke around. We will give our all at the Calderon and we'll see if that's enough. We are very motivated because it will be a very important match.

"Games before Champions League matches are difficult because you can lose concentration, and games after you can be mentally and physically tired, which is also dangerous. Playing a derby is difficult because we'll face a great team, but at the same time it will also be easier to play because everyone will be more motivated and will give their all."


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