Chelsea can bounce back against PSG, Mourinho says
Blues manager says beating top French club in the Champions League is realistic even though he feels their Premier League hopes have vanished
Agence France-Presse in Paris
Jose Mourinho has ruled his Chelsea side out of the Premier League title race, but he believes they will bounce back from domestic disappointment against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The Chelsea manager questioned his players' mentality after a surprise 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace led to them being knocked off top spot in the Premier League by Liverpool.
But the Portuguese insists that his team will rise to the occasion as they face the Ligue 1 champions-elect at the Parc des Princes in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
"Paris is the kind of match they feel comfortable to play. A big match, great stadium, opponents with top quality," said Mourinho.
Despite that, he says that the tie is finely poised, with PSG having emerged as a leading continental force in the past two years, spending money to attract the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazil captain Thiago Silva.
"They have some of the best players in the world playing together in the same team, so they are a very powerful team," Mourinho said of a side who lost on away goals to Barcelona at the same stage last season.
While Mourinho is driven by the desire to become the first coach to win the European Cup with three different clubs following previous triumphs with Porto in 2004 and Inter in 2010, Ibrahimovic is still aiming to win it for the first time.
If the consensus in England seems to be that Ibrahimovic always disappoints at the highest level, Mourinho, who coached the maverick striker at Inter in 2008-09, thinks differently.
"I only coached him for a year but it was a good year, a good experience and I rate him as one of the best players I have ever coached," he said.
PSG have not lost in 28 home European games and are currently on a club record-breaking run of nine straight wins in all competitions. They are running away with the Ligue 1 title and come into April 13 points clear of nearest challengers Monaco.
They were some way short of their best in Friday's 1-0 win at Nice, but coach Laurent Blanc admits that thoughts were already on Chelsea.
"We can say that the players were already thinking about Chelsea. On Wednesday we will need to do better in the final third," said Blanc, who was a player at Barcelona in the late 1990s when Mourinho was on the staff at the Camp Nou.
"The best preparation [for Chelsea] was to win and, while we didn't play brilliantly against Nice, we got the result. Sometimes there are games like that."