Mourinho deftly puts Europe campaign pressure on Leicester

LONDON • Jose Mourinho is going through the most difficult period of his career. But when it comes to mind games, he is still in fine form.

The Chelsea manager has turned the heat up on Leicester City ahead of today's Premier League clash against the leaders, suggesting that the Foxes must qualify for Europe after their stunning start to the season.

Leicester have 32 points from 15 games, with manager Claudio Ranieri insisting that their aim is to get 40 points, which should guarantee another season in the top flight.

But Mourinho believes the Italian should have loftier ambitions.

REDEFINING TEAM SPIRIT

We're just training, laughing, joking and when it's the game, work hard, work for each other and we will see what we can do. We just focus on our team.

RIYAD MAHREZ, Leicester winger

"They are in such a position where only three things can happen to them," said the Portuguese, whose Blues have just 15 points.

"One, to be champions, which would be amazing. Another would be to finish top four, which would again be a super achievement, but very normal at this moment because the difference of points is very big.

"The worst thing that can happen to them is to finish top six, which should be a phenomenal season too. At this moment, I don't think they are thinking about relegation any more."

Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez, however, believes the pressure will rest on Chelsea's shoulders.

"I think (the pressure) is for them because we don't have pressure," said the Algerian, scorer of a hat-trick in the Foxes' last league game - a 3-0 win over Swansea that took them to the top of the table ahead of the weekend's fixtures.

"It's good to be first. No one said at the beginning of the season Leicester are going to be first in December. Never.

"We're just training, laughing, joking and when it's the game, work hard, work for each other and we will see what we can do. We just focus on our team."

Ranieri is expected to name the same starting XI that thrashed Swansea. Collectively, they cost less than £22 million (S$47 million), which would not be enough to buy Chelsea striker Diego Costa.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Mourinho deftly puts Europe campaign pressure on Leicester'. Print Edition | Subscribe