Mourinho must emulate 2012 Blues heroics for European return
Lee Gormley | December 8, 2015
Mourinho targets European crown
Jose Mourinho has witnessed his Chelsea side dramatically fall from grace this season, as the Blues continue to endure a dreadful domestic campaign in one of the worst ever defences of a Premier League title.
His stuttering top-flight champions have dropped incredibly off the pace in the running for this term’s league crown, currently faltering in an amazing 14th position, just a mere two points adrift of the relegation zone.
Chelsea’s chances of reaching a European spot for next season look bleak after their torrid league run, with no less than eight top-tier defeats so far, but Mourinho will look to emulate the club’s 2012 Champions League success under Roberto Di Matteo and are 22/1 with Coral to reign supreme again.
Champions League win best chance of return
The under-fire Portuguese boss will guide his Blues outfit into their final Group G clash needing to secure at least a point in order to progress to the knockout stages, with former employers Porto, whom he led to European victory in 2004, standing in his way.
Failure to grab the needed home result against Porto could spell disaster for Mourinho, despite being publicly backed by demanding owner Roman Abramovich, but another Europa League win would see Chelsea also qualify for Europe’s elite club competition next term, if they end in third place this week.
“I know that in this moment, it looks that to win the Europa League would be an easier way to be in the Champions League next season than to finish in the top four,” stated the 52-year-old.
“But there is another possibility, which is to win the Champions League. Yes, it is harder than winning the Europa League, but this is the competition where we are [in].
Mourinho sees Europa League as distraction
Mourinho outlined his desire to avoid the Europa League, claiming teams that enter from the Champions League gain an unfair advantage, but it’s clear that he simply regards the secondary competition as a mere distraction from domestic duties.
“I was always against the teams that are knocked out of the Champions League going to the Europa League because I think there is such a difference in the level of competition,” continued the Blues boss, whose team are 2/1 to beat Porto to nil.
“It is not fair for the teams that are in the Europa League to do the group phase then in February to get the teams that are knocked out of the Champions League.
“I think if you are knocked out of the Champions League, you should go home and focus on domestic competitions.
“We want to play Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern [Munich] – we want to play all the big teams and for that we need to win tomorrow.”
During a previous lacklustre season in 2011/12, Chelsea eventually finished in sixth position domestically under caretaker coach Di Matteo, but salvaged their Champions League spot for the following term with a dramatic European final win over Bayern Munich.
The next campaign, Rafael Benitez was in the Stamford Bridge dugout and could only see his Blues side finish third in their Champions League group, but ultimately ended as Europa League champions and returned to the primary competition in their following season, when ‘the Special One’ regained control.
Current boss Mourinho, now into his second spell in charge, will want to avoid taking the same route as long-standing rival Benitez did, but will seek to emulate the 2012 heroics under Di Matteo by clinching Champions League glory, as Chelsea’s domestic failings continue.
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