Philadelphia, PA – Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is known as the "Special One," but Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has done something his more well-known counterpart has not - win the Champions League with Real.
Mourinho has won Europe's best club competition with FC Porto and Inter Milan, the latter a victory over Bayern two seasons ago. For Mourinho to establish an exclusive club, he will have to solve a Heynckes-led Bayern this season.
No manager has ever guided three different squads to European Cup or Champions League glory, but the 49-year-old Mourinho - with two titles already in tow at a young age and widely considered the best manager - is within reach.
Just one problem, though. Real Madrid and Mourinho visit Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the first match of their Champions League semifinal series at the Allianz Arena, which will host this season's finale.
Mourinho is under pressure with Real Madrid this season, even though the team sits atop Spain's La Liga as it tries to end Barcelona's three-year title run and enters its series against Bayern as the favorite to advance.
Heynckes was fired after he led Real to the title 14 years ago. Yes, fired.
The 66-year-old Heynckes' won the 1998 Champions League title with Real, which ended a title drought of over 30 years for the record nine-time winners. But a fourth-place La Liga finish, well, that was not satisfactory.
For the man with the special nickname, however, a Champions League title with Real is the "special one" he covets. Should the club's La Liga lead slip away - and Barca's chipping away weekly - a Champions League title would suffice.
There is no doubt Mourinho is in a class of few - if not his own - as far as tactical ability and with a lineup only matched by Spanish rival Barca, it's an even more daunting task for opponents.
The numbers are staggering: 107 goals scored through 33 La Liga games (tied for a league record with five games still to play); 41 goals for Cristiano Ronaldo in league play (who is second only to Barcelona's Lionel Messi as the world's best player); 20 consecutive games without a loss in all competitions (since a loss to Barca on Jan. 18 at its own Bernabeu).
Mourinho's dream scenario would be to take care of Bayern, then defeat Barca, or even Chelsea - another team he used to coach - in the final.
Heynckes will try to make that possibility irrelevant.
Bayern has no answer for Ronaldo, but who does? Overall, despite an immense amount of skill and star power, Bayern does not measure up overall to Real. But as a team, well, that's an area that's debatable.
The German club needs to go "to the limit and beyond," according to midfield general Bastian Schweinsteiger. As a group, Bayern - when on top of its game - can compete with any team in the world.
Even Mourinho-led Real Madrid.
And a win in the series? Well, that would be another "special one" Heynckes would hold over Mourinho.
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
Real Madrid is the favorite in this series, but Bayern has won three of the four previous semifinal clashes against its Spanish opponent, and holds an 8-0-1 record in Munich all-time against Real. It's easy to forget that Bayern striker Mario Gomez has 11 goals in Champions League games, two more than Ronaldo, and whether his finishing radar is locked in in the first leg could determine this series. Bayern can't go to Madrid in need of a win.
Winner: Bayern Munich
Chelsea vs. Barcelona
Barcelona has won two of the last three and three of the last six Champions League finals and is the clear favorite to advance in this series. However, there is no reason to rule Chelsea out - despite its poor domestic season - and a first-leg win Wednesday would heap pressure on the Spanish side. Still, with an edge in overall talent, and the best player in the world - Messi - it is hard imagining Barca will come up short at this point.