Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has claimed his club’s great rivals, Barcelona, are no longer the benchmark for others teams to emulate.
The Portuguese led Los Blancos to the Primera Division title last season, finally toppling the Catalan club after three straight seasons of dominance.
The former Chelsea boss claimed that the failure to bring back either La Liga title or Champions League trophy back to Camp Nou last season proves their style can no longer be seen as the pinnacle.
“I think the time has come where people start talking less about Barcelona, and that people are no longer trying to make comparisons with them," he said in an interview with France Football.
“Why would people talk about Barca? Real Madrid are Spanish champions, and Chelsea are European champions. Barcelona are neither of the two at the moment.”
While Mourinho may have a point, many Barça fans may suggest one season of failure – though they did win the Cope del Rey – after four of almost complete domination of European football does not necessarily mean they have completely released their grip on those trophies.
In fact, Mourinho may well be urged to temper his words to some extent when his side are currently sitting eight points behind Tito Vilanova’s side in the league.
Although he could not deny Barcelona were an exceptional side, Mourinho insisted that the way his team played was preferable.
“I love to win things and Barcelona do just that. They have won a lot of titles and will continue to do so in the future,” he added.
“However, I prefer Madrid's philosophy. We were very efficient last season, and played at an impressive level.”
Mourinho admitted, in the end, that preference is entirely subjective and that no one style can ever be definitively called the best, but he did take a shot at certain teams he believes are simply trying to copy the Catalans.
“We played beautiful and spectacular football. I enjoy Madrid's style of play. The guy who can convince me that there's one style that's more attractive than the others has yet to be born,” he went on.
“Some people enjoy Barcelona's style and some don't. I respect their philosophy and have to admit that it's difficult to play against them. Some teams are just trying to copy what's seen as the ideal by some. Madrid have their own identity.”