Jose Mourinho was the “key component” at the centre of bad blood between Barcelona and Real Madrid in the past, according to Andres Iniesta.
In possibly the most high-profile incident, Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova was poked in the eye by Mourinho during the Portuguese coach’s spell in charge of Real between 2010 and 2013.
Mourinho’s rivalry and tensions with Barca and Pep Guardiola often spilled over into heated exchanges in the dugout and on the pitch.
A lot of the players on both sides played together at national team level for Spain and Iniesta claims that the tension between rival players was “unbearable”.
“The situation was unpleasant and the key component in that was Mourinho,” Iniesta told La Sexta.
“You didn’t see the rivalry that always existed before, it went beyond that, you saw hatred.
“This caused a lot of harm in the national team. It was surreal. The environment was unbearable.”
Share Omnisport Nov 26th 2018 6:33AM Andres Iniesta has accused Jose Mourinho of cultivating “hatred” between Real Madrid and Barcelona players during his time in LaLiga and says it led to “unbearable” tension within the Spain national team.
Mourinho spent three years in charge of Madrid after leaving Inter in 2010 and, during his reign, the Clasico rivalry became hugely bitter.
The most notable incident around a match occurred during a Supercopa de Espana clash in August 2011, when Mourinho appeared to poke Pep Guardiolas assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye amid a touchline fracas.
Mourinho then referred to Vilanova as “Pito” – Spanish slang for male genitalia – after the match, claiming he had no idea who Guardiolas assistant was, while Gerard Pique accused the Portuguese coach of “ruining Spanish football”.
71 – Only Jose Mourinho (76,32%) has best won % in @LaLigaEN games as @realmadriden manager than Zinedine Zidane (70,83%) within managers with more than 90 games in Real Madrid. Past. pic.twitter.com/sBSittnmto
The majority of Spains squad at the time came from Madrid and Barca and, although La Roja won Euro 2012 during Mourinhos Madrid stay, Iniesta has revealed the atmosphere became toxic thanks to the Special One.
“You do not have to be from Barcelona or Real Madrid to know that this situation was unpleasant, and the key component in that story was Mourinho,” Iniesta said on La Sextas Salvados.
“You did not see it as a standard rivalry, it went beyond that. You saw hatred. That environment was cultivated, and it was unbearable.
“The Barca-Madrid tension provoked by Mourinho did a lot of damage to the national team and the team-mates.”