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Mourinho eyes progress in Europe

24 November 2015, 12:50

Haifa - Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea will take a major step towards turning around their troubled season if they can seal qualification for the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

Mourinho's side have travelled to Israel to face Maccabi Tel Aviv in their penultimate Group G fixture knowing a victory combined with a draw or defeat for Dynamo Kiev against Porto would guarantee their progress to the knockout stages.

That would be a significant boost for Mourinho, who has come under fire following Chelsea's woeful form in the Premier League.

Buoyed by Chelsea's 1-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, the Blues boss believes his players' confidence is finally returning.

"We can qualify tomorrow (Tuesday) and if we play like we are playing lately I think we have a good chance," Mourinho told a pre-match press conference in Haifa on Monday.

"I like the confidence the team showed against Norwich. I think players are getting their confidence back."

Mourinho also addressed the security situation which has affected clubs travelling for Champions League fixtures in the aftermath of the Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

The Portuguese coach insisted none of Chelsea's players were worried about going to Israel.

"I think the best way is to focus on football and leave security questions to the people that know more about these kind of things," he said.

"I didn't have a problem in the squad, everyone wanted to come."

Despite Mourinho's renewed confidence in the squad, he is also aware Chelsea will be in danger of being knocked out if they slip up against Maccabi.

"Tomorrow is simple, if we lose we are in trouble, we have to rely on others," he said.

"If we get a draw we can qualify in the last game but we can't be first. And tomorrow if we win we could qualify depending on the other result, so this game is very important for us."

Mourinho expects the tie to be much more difficult than the first time the clubs met in September, an encounter Chelsea won 4-0, because Maccabi now have more experience in the Champions League and will have the backing of their vociferous fans.

"For Maccabi Tel Aviv this season at Stamford Bridge it was their first game, it was raining, the pitch was very fast and Chelsea started quickly and played really well," Mourinho said.

"At home for them it is different and the results here against Porto and Dynamo could be different.

"This game is not Tel Aviv but they will feel the support and it will be much more difficult for us."

While Chelsea are currently 12 points adrift of the Premier League's top four, Mourinho insists his team can still make it back into Europe's elite club competition next season.

"I said this season that one big team will not qualify for the Champions League and I hoped it wouldn't be us. We just have to take it game by game," he said.

"We have a lot of games ahead and the Premier League is still a good platform for us to qualify for the Champions League."

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic echoed Mourinho's confidence and said the club remains focused on finishing in the top four in the Premier League.

The Serbian international also joked with reporters that last time he was in Israel, he scored two goals with the Serbia U-21 squad and that he is not worried about being in the country.

Blues striker Radamel Falcao and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois are due to miss out through injury, while Maccabi Tel Aviv will have to do without striker Dejan Radonjic, who is out with a calf injury.

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WRAP: English Premiership

21 October 2016, 19:13

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