Mourinho warns players not to underestimate APOEL as Real Madrid prepare for Cypriot test
17:32 GMT, 26 March 2012
Jose Mourinho will not be under-estimating Champions League upstarts APOEL Nicosia as Real Madrid prepare for their quarter-final first leg in Cyprus.
The Cypriot champions have been the surprise package of the competition, winning five of their seven home games on the way to becoming the first team from their country to reach the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition.
'They eliminated top-class teams. We have studied them a lot,' Mourinho told a news conference at the GSP stadium.
Warming up: Kaka, Karim Benzema, Fabio Coentrao and Cristiano Ronaldo join Jose Mourinho in Cyprus
'We are the favourites, but football is football. I am sure that we are not going to have teams certain for the last four from the first leg,' he said.
'Of course, having the second leg at home makes things more easy for us,' added the Portuguese, who has led the nine-time European champions to a six-point lead at the top of La Liga.
APOEL's success has been based on a dogged defence and they will be roared on by their passionate fans.
'It is a very difficult match and we must give a top performance against one of the best teams in the world,' said APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic.
Down time: Despite holding less than 23,000, the GSP Stadium will be a cauldron come Tuesday's game
'I achieved almost everything in the last four years with APOEL, but I still have a dream. To eliminate Real,' said Jovanovic whose side knocked out Olympique Lyon on penalties to reach the last eight.
Asked about that comment, Mourinho replied: 'Coaches are allowed to dream when their players allow them to, and since they are at this stage of the competition they are allowed to dream.
'APOEL is a very balanced team. For many, this may mean nothing, but for me it means a lot and I hope my players realise this too,' Mourinho said.