Mourinho tactics come under fire

Mourinho tactics come under fire

The stage had appeared set for Jose Mourinho to return to his native Lisbon, beat former side Real Madrid and become the first man to lift the European Cup with three different clubs -- except Atletico Madrid had other ideas.

Beaten at his own counter-attacking game by Argentine counterpart Diego Simeone, Mourinho’s blue wall buckled then crumbled under the weight of Atletico power and precision in a superbly crafted 3-1.

The Champions League semifinal defeat could be put down to Chelsea's inability to get an away goal in last week’s 0-0 stalemate in Spain, but while Europe looks forward to a Madrid derby on May 24, Mourinho was left to rue his tactical choices.

Mourinho, who famously called himself “The Special One” when he first arrived at Chelsea a decade ago, was mockingly dubbed “The Semi-Final One” by Spanish newspaper Marca after a fourth successive failure at this stage of the competition.

He had the good grace to congratulate “a very good” Atletico team but missing out on a dream final against the club he left so acrimoniously last season, at the home of Benfica, where he briefly coached at the start of his career, represents a rare failure for a man adept at seizing opportunities.

He was ultimately found wanting because his own defensive “park the bus” tactics reversed him into a corner there was no driving away from.

His ultra-cautious approach to the first leg last week meant Chelsea came home without an away goal -- and even when they took the lead on Wednesday through former Atletico favourite Fernando Torres, it was of no real significance to the tie.

Mourinho named six defenders in his 4-2-3-1 starting lineup with Torres the lone striker, and did not bring on attacking reinforcements Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba and then Andre Schurrle until the second half. Often heralded as a master tactician, the 51-year-old had appeared to have got it right once again -- until Atletico equalised.

Mourinho could not be faulted for the series of rapid-fire defensive miscalculations that allowed Atletico to pull level so quickly but once they had, Chelsea were unable to find a way through the opposition defence again.