Portuguese men of AWE! Ronaldo and Mourinho are back in town to finish City's 'Euro failures'
23:26 GMT, 20 November 2012
Jose Mourinho had only been in England for an hour and only in his seat in the press room at the Etihad Stadium for three minutes when he tossed his first grenade into Manchester City territory.
Asked if he was surprised at City's struggles in Group D of the Champions League, the brutality of Mourinho's answer was clear.
'It's normal if one of the big teams does not win the competition because there are other teams with the same power and desire,' said the Real Madrid coach.
No chance: Jose Mourinho believes that Manchester City have little chance of progression
'Only one team can win. However I don't think it's normal when you are out of the competition at the very first stage.
'From my point of view, if Real Madrid lose the final or a semi-final or a quarter-final, then that's just football. But if you are out at the group stage then it's more difficult to accept or understand.
'Last season they were out. This season I think they will be out. They could win this game of course. They could win in Dortmund as well. But eight points is not enough and I think they are out for the second successive season. That must be very difficult for them.'
City coach Roberto Mancini will perhaps care little for Mourinho's opinions.
The two men have not got on since Mourinho followed Mancini into the manager's chair at Inter Milan.
The former Chelsea coach, however, had made his point and maybe he indeed has a point.
Victory here against the man who followed him into the manager's chair at Inter Milan would give Mancini some satisfaction. It is, however, unlikely to save a European campaign that began to fall apart when City turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 defeat in the final three minutes of their opening game, against Real at the Bernabeu in September.
'That game was crucial for sure,' Mourinho added. 'If they had won that match their history would be different.
'But our reaction in that match was fantastic and now we need three points and are in good condition to qualify.
'City have a team to compete against Real Madrid – and why not – but eight points is not enough.
Portuguese man of awe: Cristiano Ronaldo is hoping to sink City's hopes
Welcome back: Ronaldo features in Sportsmail's mocked up poster
Kick-off: 7.45pm Etihad Stadium.
TV & Radio: LIVE Sky Sports 2 from 7pm and BB C 5 Live from 7.45pm.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy).
'I say again, City will be out of the competition.'
Certainly that balmy – and barmy – night in Madrid two months ago seems a while ago.
Back then, City believed themselves to be set for a fight with Real for first place in the group.
Subsequent struggles against Dortmund and Ajax have left them thinking differently.
They are bottom of Group D with two points and will go out if they fail to beat Real. Tonight marks, among other things, the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester.
The good news for City is that the former United forward is in his worst run of scoring form since September 2011.
Confident: Mourinho travelled into Manchester with his team on Tuesday
WHAT RONALDO'S BEEN UP TO SINCE LEAVING UNITED IN 2009
165 The number of goals Ronaldo has scored in all competitions since joining Real Madrid in 2009 – in just 162 games
46 La Liga goals scored for Real in one season (2011-12) – a club record
60 Goals scored in 2011-12 for Real in all competitions – another club record
7 The Real record for the most hat-tricks in a season. Ronaldo has achieved the feat twice
38 Ronaldo has contributed 38 assists since joining Real
19 Ronaldo is the first player to score a goal against all other 19 La Liga teams in the same season (2011-12)
The bad news is that all things are relative. Ronaldo has scored one goal in his last four games for Real.
In the context of his remarkable career in Spain, that represents something of a drought.
With Ronaldo, however, dams tend to burst in spectacular fashion. In September last year, he returned to life with a hat-trick in a 6-2 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano.
Earlier this season the Portugal star declared himself unhappy with life at Real then scored a goal against City that sparked a run of 10 in five games, a sequence that included three hat-tricks.
It is little wonder that Ronaldo – a player who averages more than a goal a game for his club – views himself as the best player in the world, little wonder that Mancini said over the weekend that his team may need the help of the police to shackle him at the Etihad Stadium.
City forward Carlos Tevez, a former Old Trafford team-mate of Ronaldo, said: 'Cristiano is one of the best players in the world and he will play in this game the way he always has done.
'He does not seem to feel pressure. We will have to keep a special eye on him. I think it is only right if Cristiano believes he is the best in the world.
'Any guy who gets 37 to 40 goals a season has a right to believe that. Having said that, if you push me on who is best I am always going to go on the side of Lionel Messi.'
The Ronaldo/Messi debate is a familiar one. Ronaldo has already made clear his displeasure about Messi's official status as the world's best player.
Danger man: Ronaldo has been prolific since leaving Manchester United in 2009
Are you having a laugh Carlos Tevez believes Lionel Messi is better than Ronaldo
That, however, is probably a conversation best left for another time.
Wednesday may yet transpire to be another episode of the Ronaldo show. Last night, though, was about his coach.
Asked to discuss his future, Mourinho left more than enough hints hanging in the air.
Unfortunately for him, City's new chief executive Feran Sorriano had already left the room.
'The beauty of my experience is I had the chance to leave my country, Portugal, to be in England, Italy and Spain and get the best and worst of these experiences to make me a better manager,' he said.
'I have done the lap. When you have those experiences, you evaluate, decide where you are happier and then make the choice for the future.'
MARTIN KEOWN: HOW TO STOP CRISTIANO
1 Get close to him and try to win the ball straight away. Sergio Ramos did that very well in the Euro 2012 semi-final. He outmuscled him. You need a no-nonsense approach.
2 Whoever plays wide right for City must block the service to Ronaldo. When Real are in possession, that player must be in front of Ronaldo, screening the ball into his feet.
3 When he gets within 35 yards of goal, do not stand off because he will shoot. You have to close him down. Equally, don't give away stupid free-kicks in that area. His free-kick routine is like a pantomime and is very dangerous.