Italy's Odd Couple prepare for prime time tussle
You can still catch The Odd Couple on cable TV in Italy, but Serie AÃ¢ÂÂs very own Felix and Oscar will have a prime-time slot on Saturday.Jose Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri will take their cantankerous, mismatched relationship in front of an enthralled San Siro audience for a performance sure to have us all rolling in the aisles.ItÃ¢ÂÂs Inter vs Juventus, ItalyÃ¢ÂÂs answer to Manchester United vs Liverpool and Real Madrid vs Barcelona, and is known by its grandiose title Ã¢ÂÂThe Derby of Italy.Ã¢ÂÂ
No love's lost between the clubs and certainly none between the fastidious, preening Portugese peacock and the laid-back, easy-going Italian.
However, they canÃ¢ÂÂt seem to live without each other and especially without getting on each otherÃ¢ÂÂs nerves.Asked whether Ranieri would extend the hand of Ã¢ÂÂfriendshipÃ¢ÂÂ before the game, the Juve boss replied: Ã¢ÂÂWith the help of God, yes.Ã¢ÂÂ
Jose offers his hand (God not pictured)
That will be probably be the height of any good will, with Ranieri claiming: Ã¢ÂÂWe have nothing in common. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the simple fact.Ã¢ÂÂThat may be so, but their on-running series has produced some classic quotes, with the Italian press reproducing some of the best this week.First, Mourinho arrived at Chelsea in July 2004 only to berate his predecessor for failing to win anything with: Ã¢ÂÂIf anyone happens to speak to Ranieri tell him you can only win the Champions League by beating clubs from other countries.Ã¢ÂÂWhile later that year Ranieri, admitting he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt follow his old side, chirped: Ã¢ÂÂFriends tell me they are difficult to watch.Ã¢ÂÂThis year, Mourinho cropped up in Italy, chatting away like a native, adding: Ã¢ÂÂThe previous coach at Chelsea could hardly say Ã¢ÂÂGood morningÃ¢ÂÂ or Ã¢ÂÂGood afternoonÃ¢ÂÂ after five years in England.Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂs won nothing and how old is he, 70?Ã¢ÂÂ
"The Force is strong with Jose. He must not become a Jedi."
Cue canned laugher as Ranieri turns 57 and turns to the audience with a knowing smile before uttering: Ã¢ÂÂYou should congratulate me, I am 70.Ã¢ÂÂOn Friday afternoon during the pre-game press conference, Mourinho was as po-faced as a judge, claiming: Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂll be as educated as ever and seeing as I am at home I will extend my hand in the tunnel.Ã¢ÂÂTo do what, remains to be seen.Now, how did that theme tune go again?