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As.com | 22/11/2012
José Mourinho is one of the few that isn't worried about Real Madrid qualifying for the last sixteen of the Champions League as second in their group. The only disadvantage of the situation is that the second-placed teams play the return leg of their knockout match away from home. Nothing more than that. Sometimes, the opponent you're paired with in the draw can be more favourable than the one you would have been given had you topped the group. The Portuguese knows this well. On both of the occasions he conquered Europe, with Porto and Inter, he won this way.
In 2003/04, Mourinho's Porto finished behind Real Madrid in the group stage. The Spanish side had 14 points and the Portuguese 11. 'The Dragons' only went down at home against Madrid and managed a draw at the Bernabéu in the last round of fixtures. After that, against the odds, Porto knocked out Manchester United, Lyon and Deportivo La Coruña on the way to a final where they beat Monaco convincingly, 3-0.
In his second Champions League, which he went on to lift in the Bernabéu with Inter just before signing for Real Madrid, Mourinho's side also finished second in the group. This time it was Pep Guardiola's Barça who pipped him to the top spot, with two more points than Inter (11). The Italians had to earn qualification in their last match against Rubin Kazan, who they beat 2-0 at home. But after that, and despite again having the stadium factor against him, Mou was almost unbeatable. His team knocked out Chelsea in the last sixteen, beating them twice. In the quarter-finals, he did the same with CSKA Moscow. In the semi-finals he had a tougher ride but Inter held on to an advantage built up at home over Barça (3-1). After the tactical battle at the Camp Nou, Bayern Munich were Mou's last victims, going down 0-2 in the final.
Real Madrid also have good memories of finishing second in a group stage in 1999/00. It proved to be the season of their eighth European Cup. That year, the competition format included two group stages. In the first they dominated, finishing ahead of Porto. But in the next they slipped up against Bayern at home (2-4) and in Germany (4-1), and put their progression into doubt with a draw against Dynamo Kyiv at the Bernabéu (1-1). They edged though with a tense win against Rosenborg in the last game (0-1). Madrid's path through the tournament made many fear the worst, but their best nights were to come. At the key moment. They knocked out Manchester United in the quarter-finals with Redondo's famous back heel at Old Trafford (2-3) and they got revenge on Bayern with a crucial Anelka header on the brink of the final. They claimed the title with a 3-0 win over Valencia in Paris.