Every team wants us in last 16: Jose

LONDON • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that all of the Blues' potential opponents are hoping to be drawn against them in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Mourinho's men finished top of Group G after beating Porto 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and face one of six group runners-up over two legs in the competition's first knockout round.

The English champions will learn their next opponents after Monday's draw and could face either Paris Saint-Germain, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Juventus, Roma or Gent.

PSG eliminated Chelsea at this stage last season and along with Juventus, PSV, Gent and Benfica are the winners of their domestic leagues last season.

"Every team finishing second wants to play us or Zenit St Petersburg," Mourinho said.

"They don't want to play Barcelona, they don't want to play Real Madrid, they don't want to play Atletico (Madrid), they don't want to play Bayern Munich. They think we are the weakest."

Chelsea are 14th in the Premier League table after losing eight of their 15 games so far and speculation was rife that Mourinho would be sacked if they failed to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Needing only a draw to advance, the Blues showed their old passing precision and defensive solidity.

A 12th-minute own goal which rebounded off Ivan Marcano and a well-worked second-half strike from Brazilian Willian ensured victory and sent Porto into the Europa League.

With four wins, a draw and one defeat en route to the knockout stages, Mourinho will be happier with his team's form in Europe.

But the Portuguese insisted that Chelsea could not be considered realistic candidates to win Europe's elite club competition, even though he has twice led unfancied teams to the title.

"It's obvious that a team struggling as much as we are will not be candidates to win the Champions League," he said. "In the Champions League, you have the best teams in Europe. But when we won with Porto in 2004, we were not candidates. When we won at Inter (Milan) in 2010, we were not candidates. When we were candidates, we lost two semi-finals with Real Madrid and two with Chelsea."

Mourinho can also take heart from an encouraging performance from striker Diego Costa.

He handed the Spaniard a start after dropping him to the bench for Chelsea's last two games and Costa was a constant thorn in Porto's side.

"He could have scored two or three goals today," Mourinho said. "What is clear was his effort, his commitment, his great movement, which was something he didn't have for the last couple of matches.

"His touch wasn't the best. So, yes, clearly there's a lack of confidence but his attitude was very good. The goals are coming."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'Every team wants us in last 16: Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe