Champions League final
This year’s Champions League final sees two of Europe’s brightest young coaches come face to face as Jose Mourinho takes his Porto team up against Didier Deschamps Monaco side.
Both teams entered the competition as unfancied outsiders but, guided by their astute young managers, both have consistently defied the odds to reach the final.
For Mourinho, this could be a last match in charge with reports that both Chelsea and Liverpool are keen to secure his services, while for Deschamps, a return to Juventus or even Chelsea, remains a distinct possibility.
Asked about the possibility of this being his last match in charge at Monaco, Deschamps refused to be drawn.
“I don’t think this is an important question right now, I am not discussing that,” said Deschamps. “I am just thinking about the final, that’s the only objective in my mind.”
“Even if they do not have the same prestige as clubs like Milan they are the favourites to win this,” added Deschamps.
Mourinho was equally non-committal about his future plans.
“I don’t know if it’s my last match but I do know it is the most important of my career and something I’ve worked on for two years,” said Mourinho.
“Everyone is fully concentrated on this match. It deserves 100% from us and I must be an example to the players.”
“I told them that some of them may be lucky enough to play in another Champions League final but most of them won’t,” said Mourinho.
“They have to go out and take this chance with both hands.”
Asked to compare himself with his Monaco counterpart, Mourinho noted that the pair had arrived at the same destination via fifferent means.
“It’s difficult to compare us,” he added.
“Didier Deschamps was a great player who went directly from the pitch to the bench and he’s a success.
“I had a different education, I was not a great player but I had a chance to study a lot.
“I had the chance to be an assistant to top managers for many seasons at top clubs.
“In the end it’s a matter of getting results or not getting them. I think we’re lucky managers.
“Getting to the final of the Champions League is great for an old manager so imagine for a young one.
Mourinho has already tasted European success, having led Porto to victory in last season’s UEFA Cup. Victory at the Arena AusSchalke in Gelsenkirchen would represent a remarkable achievement for him and his unheralded Porto team.
Given their recent pedigree, it is perhaps not surprising that Deschamps considers Porto to be favourites to win in Gelsenkirchen.
“They have the experience – they won the UEFA Cup last season as part of a treble with the Portuguese championship and the Portuguese Cup.
“They are a very aggressive team with very good players. They attack in numbers, they have a player in Deco in midfield who can hurt you and make the difference, and they defend very well.”