Football

Progress is key for Mourinho

Blues boss seeks improvement and eyes advancement to knock-out stage before final group game

GROUP G

DYNAMO KIEV v CHELSEA

(Tomorrow, 2.40am, Singtel TV Ch 111 & StarHub TV Ch 203)

Jose Mourinho's erratic Chelsea tackle Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine tomorrow morning (Singapore time), knowing defeat would seriously complicate their chances of progressing from Group G in the Champions League.

Chelsea eased some of the pressure on Mourinho by beating Aston Villa 2-0 in the Premier League last Saturday, but go into tomorrow's game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at his former club 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 - I'm not even saying win, win, win, win, but getting normal results: wins, draws, the odd defeat - then it's a great month."

Mourinho also warned his players not to make Chelsea's place in the Champions League knock-out stage go down to the wire.

"The Champions League is getting dangerous, with the coefficients and the new formats in the groups," he said.

"There are difficult teams to play against and we have to try not to go to the last match with our destiny in doubt. If we can go to Kiev and get a positive result, then play them 15 days later at Stamford Bridge, it will be good."

DEMANDING

Chelsea have not been at their best all season, but Mourinho says his players can fight on all fronts if they rediscover their top form in Europe.

"The Champions League demands everything from a player," he said.

"When players show they are ready for it, they are ready for everything."

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 last Friday, but Mourinho believes his side can compensate in other areas.

"In this moment, we are losing 24 hours to Dynamo, like we did against Porto," he said.

"Porto played Friday, Dynamo played Friday. We played in Newcastle on Saturday (prior to playing Porto), we played again on Saturday.

"We are losing 24 hours. We have to try to recover that with other ingredients and the ingredients will be the same - fantastic spirit. Let's start from that point."

Dynamo's rearranged fixture may have helped them prepare for Chelsea, but it proved a forgettable experience as they lost 3-0 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, who knocked them off the league summit in the process.

"We are all upset," said Dynamo coach Sergei Rebrov.

"We must forget this terrible match and start getting ready for the game against Chelsea."

It was their first league defeat in 39 matches, but Rebrov's men can take heart from a record of only one loss 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 1-0 loss to Spain in Euro 2016 qualifying last Monday, having been caught on camera semi-disguised under a grey hood.

Yarmolenko, 25, subsequently reaffirmed his commitment to Dynamo by signing a new five-year contract, but he remains open to the idea of playing overseas.

"I still want that (to play abroad). I know that if Dynamo get really worthy offers, we'll find an option that satisfies everyone," said Yarmolenko, who scored in last month's 2-0 win at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

"I want the club to get good compensation for me. I could have left for free in a while, but that would have been wrong.

"I am 100 per cent a Dynamo player. Our team are like my second family. "That's why I keep doing my best to benefit the club." 
- Wire Services.

"Hazard is not performing like he did last year when he was voted Player of the Year. He was sensational. He’s found it hard this year because the team are not playing as well. I look at him and think ‘really? substitute?’ I think it’s harsh. He’s such a big influence at Chelsea. If you want to play a style and you need someone to make a difference, he’s your guy. Hazard can make things happen."

— Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino, on Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Eden Hazard

'I'm not telling if Hazard plays'

Jose Mourinho refused to say whether Eden Hazard will return to Chelsea's starting line-up for tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Champions League Group G clash at Dynamo Kiev.

Mourinho was critical of Hazard, the stand-out performer in last season's Premier League triumph, after leaving the Belgium playmaker on the substitutes' bench for last Saturday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

And the Blues boss declined to reveal if Hazard, who has been told to up his work rate, will start at the Olympic Stadium, as Chelsea seek to respond from defeat at Porto in their most recent Champions League game.

"If he plays tomorrow, I don't tell you. The players don't know," Mourinho said.

Mourinho has left forwards Pedro Rodriguez and Loic Remy behind due to minor injuries, increasing the likelihood Hazard will return to the starting 11.

The Portuguese criticised Hazard (right) during his first season back at Stamford Bridge and the desired response followed, with the forward compared favourably with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when winning individual Footballer of the Year awards last season.

"I didn't say he had a better season than Ronaldo," Mourinho said.

"Last season he won one of the most important titles in football, which is the Premier League, and (he was) absolutely decisive for Chelsea. Last season, he had a phenomenal season."

Asked about Hazard's response to his comments, Mourinho said: "How did he train? He trained like Eden."

Mourinho also says Radamel Falcao has given no indication to him of his apparent desire to leave Chelsea, following reports yesterday in the English press.

"First of all, I don't know if it's true. To me, he said absolutely nothing in relation to that," Mourinho said.

"I speak with him every day. It's quite strange the press know something I don't know and my club don't know. We don't have one single bit of information about it.

"What he has to do is play more? He has to give us more than Diego (Costa).

"We normally play with one striker. I always go for the performance level.

"It's a direct competition between players for one position. The best one plays." 
- PA Sport.

 

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