Post match comments from Jose Mourinho, Jorge Valdano, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Arbeloa, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Esteban Granero, Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe.

Jorge Valdano

The team gave it their all and I do not think that they deserved to lose. We must now look forward and I am sure that the team is ready for the important challenges, which await us.
In the second half we really pushed hard for a goal. They scored with their only chance and thus put us under a lot of pressure. We could not turn the game around. The team did give it everything and we do have Higuain back now. Everyone is disappointed, as is always the case after a defeat.
We will overcome this – each game is now the most important of the season. We have a team, which has a great spirit and soul and I have no doubt that we will not be scarred by this result.
(Having a few players absent) may have influenced the outcome but there were eleven players out there on the pitch who gave their maximum.

Gonzalo Higuain

I wanted to come back to help the team win and be happy again. We did not get the result. I was itching to return and I am very happy about that but at the same time, it is a pity that we have lost three points here. It was a very big opportunity for us to close the gap to two points but now Barcelona has no such pressure on them. It is still mathematically possible but we now need to think about the game against Tottenham. There were tough times after I had the operation because my surgeon said I would not play again this season. My comeback is a demonstration of my attitude and my desire to help the team. I am ready to play with Benzema. Hopefully, I can play more now with some big games coming up. The important thing today was to get some minutes under my belt. Physically, I felt no pain.

Alvaro Arbeloa

We didn’t play well. There are days in which things don’t work out. We pressurised more because a draw was not enough. We took risks and Sporting used this to their favour. They also did enough to deserve to win. We just think about the Champions League now; we are only four games away from the final. Real Madrid have picked themselves up and this will be no exception. We will continue to fight for La Liga. There’s always hope.

Sergio Ramos

This is a young and competitive team. We believe this blow will not affect us. Unfortunately, we dropped three important points. We had good chances to score, but the ball didn’t go in. The team’s attitude was exemplary. There are still points at stake. The fans created a great atmosphere.

Esteban Granero

The league isn’t over until there is no mathematical chance to win. Sporting prepared well for the game and our performance was under par. We must now play an important game on Tuesday and we have to concentrate on it. Our goal is to win.

Iker Casillas

We tried to win at all times, but we failed to score. Sporting used their options well. We didn’t attack much in the first half, but we pressurised much more after half-time. We gave our all to win, but sometimes you just can’t.

We are all sad because we wanted to continue winning. The result was unfair because Sporting earned more than they deserved. We must think about our next match. We’ll see what happens in La Liga. Our priority right now is to think about Tottehnam Hotspur.

We must overcome and recover from this blow. It is always hard to accept defeat, but we will do our best in the Champions League quarterfinals to earn the best possible result.

Jose Mourinho

Football is football. We had many chances to score one, two, three, four and five metres away from target. Sporting defended, defended and defended… and then they scored a goal. We had six chances on goal, but we were unlucky. That’s football for you.

I wanted to play with two fixed forwards. We lacked our most creative players and we knew it. Only Ozil was out there. Cristiano, Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Marcelo are our most creative men. Lacking creation against a team that defends fiercely forces you to play a straightforward game. I took off Granero because he hasn’t played enough.

Our opponent hardly attacked. We didn’t have to pressurise more in attack nor defend more strongly. We simply had to score a goal. We tried to play a more straightforward game. If I had wanted to draw the game 0-0 from the start I would have done so. We will have chances to win against Tottenham Hotspur if we play a solid game and don’t have problems in attack. It wouldn’t be dramatic to draw against them at home.

My men know they can win or lose. You win and lose one way or another, but you can lose with dignity. We were aware of our limitations before the game. Luck plays a role in this game and our opponent had all of it tonight. Our only problem was the absence of creative players. Xabi Alonso will play on Tuesday and he’s the only one who can change our style a little. We can earn a different result on Tuesday with the same players.

Cristiano Ronaldo will play if he and his coach decide to take a risk. The decision of risking it belongs only to him and to me. I may risk it…

Ricardo Carvalho

We did not play as well as in previous games. We found it difficult to try and score a goal and we ended up losing the game. We must improve. Now we must focus on ourselves and not think about Barcelona. The most important thing is to keep our heads up and win the upcoming matches. We know that it is hard to play a game after being away on international duty. (The Champions League) is another competition. We must be strong in both legs against them.

Pepe

It was a defeat, which we did not expect. Now we have to change course and think about the Champions League. We should congratulate Sporting, who played very well. We have to fight to reach the final of the Champions League now. While we still have some life left in us, we must fight and play for the shirt. I have not yet renewed my contract but talks are going well. I am happy here and looking forward to the future. I hope things go as smoothly as possible.