Real Madrid: Jose Mourinho reacts to Pepe's criticism
Real Madrid v Malaga
- Bernabeu, Madrid
- 08 May
- Kick off time:
- 20:30 BST
- Read updates on the BBC Sport website's live text commentary service covering all of Wednesday's matches
Jose Mourinho says Pepe's criticism of his management of Real Madrid stems from the defender's frustration at losing his place to a 20-year-old.
Pepe, 30, has expressed his regret at the way Mourinho has handled the decision to drop captain Iker Casillas.
"It is easy to analyse the Pepe thing. His problem has a name, and it is Raphael Varane," the 50-year-old said.
Real host Malaga on Wednesday, knowing that only a victory will stop Barcelona from claiming the La Liga title.
The Andalusian side - coached by rumoured Manchester City target Manuel Pellegrini - have slipped down the table to sixth place in recent weeks, but Mourinho expects a tough match at the Bernabeu.
He said: "Malaga are a dangerous team and if we don't play to the best of our ability we will have a hard time. They're a very good team and they play as a group.
"If we don't take it seriously this is a game we could lose".
Prior to Real's 4-3 victory against Valladolid on Saturday, Mourinho revealed his principal regret since joining the club was his failure to sign current first-choice goalkeeper Diego Lopez in 2011.
That remark was described as "not the most adequate" by Pepe, who then called Casillas - who has captained his country to victory at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 - an "institution in this club and in Spain".
Mourinho has benched Casillas for much of the season, with rumours emerging that the former Porto, Chelsea and Inter manager had clashed with the 30-year-old and defender Sergio Ramos.
Portugal international Pepe has joined Casillas on the sidelines in recent weeks, with Mourinho preferring 20-year-old centre-back Varane.
"It is not easy for a 30-year-old man with experience to be run over by a kid," Mourinho said. "I have had the courage to play a kid.
"I perfectly understand the frustration of Pepe, which has translated into the words that he has said.
"I understand that it is not an easy situation but I have to try to be honest and I think that very few don't believe that the future of Real Madrid is Varane and Sergio Ramos."