Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said he would love to face Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or any of Europe's other giants in the Champions League quarter-finals after his side progressed on Tuesday.
‘All the big teams ... we welcome any of them’ says Mourinho after Chelsea advance in Champions League
Jose Mourinho insists Chelsea have no fears about facing one of Europe’s super-powers in the Champions League after his side strolled into the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Galatasaray.
Mourinho’s team barely had to break sweat to see off lacklustre Galatasaray in the last 16 second leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as first half goals from Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory.
The scoreline didn’t do justice to Chelsea’s dominance, but sterner tests lie ahead for the Premier League leaders, with the likes of holders Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain already through to the last eight.
Facing one of those star-studded sides would be a major step up in class for a relatively young Chelsea team that Mourinho believes is still to reach its full potential.
But the manager is confident his players can hold their own against anyone and he expects they would relish the chance to knock out one of the giants of the European scene.
“All the big teams are there, all the big candidates to win the competition. We welcome any of them,” Mourinho said.
“It will be very good for our evolution as a team if we can play one of the best. We wait for the draw.”
While the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian are enjoying their first serious assault on Europe’s elite club prize, few managers are more battle-hardened when it comes to the latter stages of the competition than Mourinho.
The Portuguese has already won the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan.
Asked if he felt his impressive European pedigree would make Chelsea a feared opponent even in such illustrious company, Mourinho for once declined to blow his own trumpet and instead praised his players for a composed and clinical display.
“I never lost in the quarter-finals? I never thought about it. I know that I have a lot of matches in the Champions League,” he said.
“It was a very good performance. We were solid and compact with no fears.
“We were very much in control. We had the best chances and maybe the result could have been bigger because we were much better than Galatasaray.”
Chelsea’s progress to the last eight was tinged with sympathy for Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba, the club legend who cut a frustrated figure on his first return to the Bridge since his exit in 2012.
Drogba, who won the Champions League final against Bayern Munich with his last kick for Chelsea in 2012, was given a tremendous reception before the game and fans chanted his name throughout the match.
But Galatasaray were so poor that the 36-year-old rarely had a chance to shatter his old club’s European dreams.
“I think the most difficult thing was the way his team played. When you are a striker and your team doesn’t produce attacking football you feel a lonely man,” Mourinho added.
“It can happen to any striker in the world. He didn’t do much but Gary (Cahill) and John (Terry) did a fantastic job against two very good strikers. Because of that we didn’t see Didier in many attacking positions.”
Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini, an old rival of Mourinho’s, cut a downcast figure as he contemplated the latest Champions League flop of his long career.
Mancini, who failed to make any impact in the competition with Manchester City and Inter Milan, said: “It is difficult to say much about the game because we didn’t play well. Chelsea were much better than us. We didn’t have any chances. I am very sorry for our supporters.
“I don’t know how to explain it. We knew it was an important game but after the way we played in Istanbul I thought we were in the tie and had a chance to score. But it didn’t happen on the pitch.”
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