Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has led four different clubs to the Champions League semifinals an incredible total of eight times over the last 10 years. Six of those times, including the last four years in a row, Mourinho's teams have lost through a series of nefarious plots against him. Whether of human or supernatural origins, these forces have conspired to prevent Mourinho from total domination of European football over the last decade. So let's take a look at the variety of horrors he has been forced to endure.
2004: After winning the UEFA Cup the year before, an up and coming Jose Mourinho led Porto to the Champions League title, defeating Deportivo La Coruna in the semifinal and Monaco in the final. This was the only time in the last 18 years that a club outside of the big four leagues (England, Spain, Italy and Germany) has won the Champions League title. And clearly it was enough to terrify the secret controllers of European football and convince them to do everything they possibly could to try and stop him.
2005: Now with Chelsea, Mourinho led the club to their second Champions League semifinal in as many years (they lost to Monaco the year before), where they faced Liverpool. The only goal of the two legs was Luis Garcia's famous "ghost goal," which was allowed to stand in the fourth minute of the second leg despite not crossing the goal line. Liverpool went on to stage a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down against Milan in the final, winning the title on penalties.
Evil doer: The linesman. "Liverpool scored, if you can say they scored, because maybe you should say the linesman scored," Mourinho said after the match.
2007: Chelsea lost to eventual champions Barcelona in the round of 16 in 2006, but returned to the semifinals, where they once again faced Liverpool in 2007. Each leg was won 1-0 by the home team, but Liverpool advanced on penalties at Anfield, with Arjen Robben and Geremi's shots saved by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina. Liverpool then lost to Milan in the final.
Evil doer: Arjen Robben. He missed Chelsea's first penalty and — let's be honest — there's always been something shady about that guy. Plus, it's impossible to blame Geremi for anything. Everybody loves Geremi.
2010: Sacked by Chelsea in September of 2007, Mourinho joined Inter in 2008 and once again shocked Europe in 2010 by first defeating Barcelona in the semifinals and then Bayern Munich in the final to claim the centerpiece of a treble-winning season. After holding on to eliminate Barcelona despite playing with 10 men for most of the second leg, the Catalan club turned on the sprinklers to try and stop Inter from celebrating at the Camp Nou. Victor Valdes even attempted to physically stop Mourinho from celebrating. Mourinho's defiance and success in the face of the ongoing plot against him would only make the shadowy cabal out to destroy him increase their efforts.
2011: Having accomplished everything at Inter, Mourinho moved to Real Madrid. In his first season there, he took the club to their first Champions League semifinal in seven years, where he again faced Barcelona. Mourinho and a player from each side was sent off in the first leg, which Barca won 2-0. After the match, he said dark forces were at work against his side. "One day I would like Josep Guardiola to win this competition properly," he proclaimed. A 1-1 draw in the second leg was enough to eliminate Real Madrid and Barcelona went on to beat Man United in the final.
Evil doer: UNICEF. Mourinho mused that the charity organization with close ties to UEFA that Barcelona paid to have as a shirt sponsor was pulling the strings in their favor.
2012: Mourinho brought Real Madrid back to the semifinals, this time facing Bayern Munich. The tie went to penalties, where Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer saved Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka's attempts before Sergio Ramos skied the decisive penalty over the crossbar. Bayern went on to lose to Chelsea in the final.
Evil doer: Sergio Ramos. His shot was just ridiculous.
2013: For the third year in a row, Mourinho led Real Madrid to the semifinals and for the third year in a row, they lost — this time to Borussia Dortmund. The Germans won the first leg 4-1 with Robert Lewandowski scoring all four of his side's goals while Mourinho criticized the officiating by playing charades with the fourth official. Real Madrid won the second leg 2-0, but it was not enough to advance.
Evil doer: Everyone. Lewandowski for scoring all of those goals, the increasingly insubordinate Real Madrid players and the fourth official for coldly ignoring Jose's attempts to make him giggle. They were all in on it.
2014: Returning to Chelsea after an acrimonious split with Real Madrid, Mourinho again took the club to the semifinals in his first year back. He engineered a scoreless first leg at the Vicente Calderon, but Atletico came from behind to win the second leg 3-1 and advance to face Mourinho's previous club in the final.
Evil doer: No one really. Atletico were just better. Even Mourinho himself said as much.
So there you have it. Ever since Mourinho's original Champions League victory, there has been a far-reaching conspiracy at work to keep him from succeeding in the semifinals. It has included linesmen, Arjen Robben, UNICEF, Sergio Ramos, everyone and no one. Like David against an invisible Goliath, he managed to overcome it once after the scheme began in earnest. It seems likely that Mourinho will continue to reach the late stages of the tournament more than anyone else, but only time will tell whether he can finally expose those dark forces once and for all, and end his semifinal torment.
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