Mourinho not special in Champions League

Martin Rogers
Yahoo! Sports

Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter at @mrogersyahoo

These are confusing times for Jose Mourinho, a man for whom being right and being successful are equally important.

Unfortunately for Mourinho, his two favorite hobbies were at odds this week.

Less than 24 hours after he insisted that Barcelona may still be the most exciting team in the world, the Catalan giants went and proved it in spectacular fashion against his own Inter Milan club. In isolation, such a result need not have been a catastrophe for the Portuguese coach, but coming as it did toward the end of a fractured and increasingly perilous Champions League group stage, it has ratcheted up the pressure on his position significantly.

Mourinho's tenure at Inter was always going to live or die based on his performances in this competition. Yet in his 16 months in charge, he has been unable to find the magical European formula.

In Milan, home of the continent's premier catwalks, winning Serie A has become decidedly unfashionable, an annual accomplishment to be collected rather than cherished. Champions League glory is what Inter's fans and president Massimo Moratti crave, but this season the trophy seems further away than ever.

Three straight Serie A titles was not enough to keep Roberto Mancini as Inter's coach and it was abundantly clear when Mourinho arrived that his tenure would be judged by his achievements in Europe.

Group F is tricky, no doubt about it, but it's still one Inter would expect to be able to negotiate, the awkward presence of Rubin Kazan and Dynamo Kiev alongside Barca notwithstanding.

It is a tough spot for Mourinho, whose outspoken nature only serves to put him in the full glare of the spotlight with both successes and failures intensified. And if he cannot negotiate a path into the Champions League knockout stage, he may the pay the price with his job, even if another Serie A title follows.

One way or another, it is hard to see Mourinho lasting for too long, and it might be just as well. His style of management is best suited to the English Premier League, where he enjoyed such success with Chelsea until his ego got between him and owner Roman Abramovich.

Mourinho will be in contention for any big job that comes. With Rafa Benitez on borrowed time at Liverpool, it is conceivable to see him back in the EPL sooner rather than later.

Yahoo! Sports' UEFA Champions League rankings

1. Chelsea – Strongest, toughest and most confident team in the tournament.

2. Manchester United – Forget the defeat to Besiktas. Still awesome when at full strength.

3. Barcelona – Finally getting back to its championship form of last season.

4. Arsenal – Impressive march through the group and good enough to win it all.

5. Real Madrid – Will relish Cristiano Ronaldo's return for the knockout stage.

6. Bordeaux – Surprise team has been exceptional in winning Group A.

7. Lyon – Slight dip in form but still a side capable of going far.

8. Fiorentina – Quietly picked its way through Group E and can't be discounted.

Man of the matches

Juan Vargas. The Fiorentina star proved to be the difference as the Viola powered past Lyon to confirm its spot in the last 16. Vargas was a constant threat throughout and converted the penalty that was the difference between the sides.

Shock of the week

Romanian side Unirea Urziceni upset Sevilla 1-0 on Tuesday to move into second place in Group G. A point in Stuttgart on Matchday 6 will put Dan Petrescu's team in the knockout stage.

We're happy

Besiktas. It's not every day you get to win at Old Trafford, so the Turkish visitors had every reason to rejoice in their first victory of this year's competition. It was against a dramatically weakened Manchester United – and Besiktas is still heading out – but it was still a famous moment in the club's history.

We're not

Liverpool. The road victory over Debrecen was too little, too late for Rafa Benitez and his side. The Reds' elimination was sealed by Fiorentina's win over Lyon, and Benitez now faces more criticism and disharmony from the club's angry fans.

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