Jose Mourinho claims it is 'impossible' for Blues to overhaul PSG lead
Feigning weariness at having to address so many media conferences, Jose Mourinho is at least maintaining a consistent line in limiting expectations: the Premier League table lies, because of Manchester City’s games in hand; and by conceding a late third goal away to Paris Saint-Germain last Wednesday, Chelsea have given themselves a near impossible task to reach the semi-final of the Champions League tomorrow.
Whatever is said for public consumption, the message in the Chelsea dressing room will be rather more upbeat. Mourinho knows that if they keep a clean sheet, a side devoid of what he has called “real strikers” is still capable of scoring twice to qualify on away goals.
Saturday’s 3-0 demolition of an unexpectedly feeble Stoke City to maintain a modicum of pressure on Liverpool and City was good preparation in being so undemanding, producing no new injuries and reasserting a positive mood after successive defeats by Crystal Palace and PSG.
All it lacked was a first league goal in three months for Fernando Torres, who will have to start tomorrow’s game as Samuel Eto’o is still unfit. “The team picks itself,” Mourinho said.
That means no Mohamed Salah or Nemanja Matic, both excellent against Stoke but ineligible.
If the starting XI need inspiration, they can take it from Chelsea’s recovery from 3-1 down against Napoli two years ago to win the second leg 4-1 after extra time.
Mourinho can also look back at last season’s semi-final in which his Real Madrid side came close to retrieving a 4-1 deficit against Borussia Dortmund.
So it was not entirely convincing to hear him describe Tuesday’s task as “almost the impossible job”, and he was prepared to agree that the occasion, at a packed Stamford Bridge, “can be special for sure”.