Mourinho wary of defeat ahead of Kiev clash

KIEV • Jose Mourinho's erratic Chelsea team tackle Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine today knowing defeat would seriously complicate their chances of progressing from Champions League Group G.

The pressure on Mourinho has eased slightly after Chelsea beat Aston Villa 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, but they go into today's game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Porto in their previous group match.

The English champions have never previously lost consecutive group games, but ahead of a sapping run of six matches in 19 days, Mourinho knows how damaging another defeat could prove.

"Obviously you don't need to lose and lose and lose, because then psychological issues are coming into the game," said the Portuguese, whose side trail Dynamo and Porto by a point after two matches.

"In normal conditions, getting normal results: wins, draws, the odd defeat - then it's a great month."

Mourinho dropped Eden Hazard, last season's outstanding player, for the Villa match. The Belgian winger can expect to remain on the bench until he demonstrates a willingness to up his defensive contribution.

With Branislav Ivanovic sidelined by a hamstring injury, Mourinho must decide whether to persevere with a reconfigured backline that saw Cesar Azpilicueta start at right-back against Villa, with close-season signing Baba Rahman on the opposite flank.

Dynamo have had an extra day to prepare for the game at the Olympic Stadium, having had their most recent Ukrainian Premier League fixture moved forward to Friday, but Mourinho believes his side can compensate in other areas.

"The ingredients will be the same - fantastic spirit. Let's start from that point," the Chelsea boss said.

Sergei Rebrov's Dynamo lost for the first time in the league this season on Friday - thrashed 3-0 at home by rivals Shakhtar Donetsk, who replaced them at the top of the Ukrainian standings on goal difference.

Influential midfielder Serhiy Rybalka missed the match with a muscle injury suffered playing for Ukraine in the recent Euro 2016 qualifier against Spain and is a doubt for today's match.

But Dynamo have lost only once in 10 European home games - a series that included a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in last season's Europa League.

Mourinho reportedly scouted Dynamo winger Andriy Yarmolenko during Ukraine's 0-1 loss to Spain, having been caught on camera semi-disguised beneath a grey hood.

Yarmolenko, 25, subsequently reaffirmed his commitment to Dynamo by signing a new five-year contract.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline 'Mourinho wary of defeat ahead of Kiev clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe