Having started the Champions League group campaign with a home defeat, there was reason for satisfaction in a recovery that ended with Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge. There was reason for satisfaction in 12 points won, top spot in Group E and a place among the first seeds when the knockout stage draw is made on Monday.

As he spoke following a game which was decided by Demba Ba’s early goal, Jose Mourinho did not wish to look too far ahead having already this week described his team as outside the favourites to win the competition, but he was prepared to assess the teams Chelsea may meet in the last 16 stage. First though he considered the win over the Romanian champions…

‘It was not a fantastic performance but it was a comfortable one, and it is enough,’ Mourinho decided.

‘We did enough to win without difficult moments. If we had scored the second goal we would have jumped to another level of performance, but in the second half we knew that Schalke were winning 2-0 and that only one point was enough for us. We knew we had just to control the situation.

‘At half-time I told the players we were on the limit, because at that stage if Basel scored one goal and we conceded one goal we are in second place. But later when we knew one point is enough and we were winning 1-0 we didn’t have to risk, we didn’t have to do silly things. We had just to control the game and this is a competition too important in terms of prestige and finances to do silly things. You have to play safe and it was solid and comfortable.’

Mourinho selected Mark Schwarzer in goal for his first Champions League game at the age of 41…
‘Mark deserved to play today,’ said Mourinho. ‘If I played him and we were already top it would have been a completely different feeling but he felt my trust because I played him in a very important match. He is more than ready as he showed when he had a fantastic game against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup.

‘Today he had not a lot of work but what he did he did in a very comfortable way. He knows Petr Cech is my first option and he knows Petr is my goalkeeper for Saturday, but to have the feeling that Mark is there in case Petr has a problem is the feeling I want to have. I am very happy for him and I think Petr is happy too because the relationship between them is fantastic.’

Looking ahead to when the Champions League resumes in February…
‘We have to grow up step by step and go to new matches for some of my players because they haven’t played any games in the knockout stage of the Champions League. They’ve played group phase and they’ve played Europa League and it will be a different scenario. So let’s go to the last 16 and if we get to the quarter-finals with only eight teams we can think in a different way. Let’s get results now in the domestic competitions because if we do that we are preparing ourselves for the Champions League.’

On whether it is good year to be a group winner and therefore avoid the other top-placed clubs in the next round…
‘The ones who won the groups are the main favourites to win the competition but among the second positions there are difficult teams and there are champions. There are the Russian champions, the Greek champions, Leverkusen is a German team and German teams are always difficult. Milan is Milan who have only won it seven times! And the fact the second leg is at home means nothing. I don’t care whether it is away or at home.’

One other potential opponent for Chelsea in the last 16 stage is Galatasaray and their striker – a certain Didier Drogba…
‘He deserves to come here,’ stated Mourinho. ‘He deserves a reception here double or three times the one I got against Hull City. I know what I felt and I think he deserves that. Galatasaray are the Turkish champions and very difficult, but I would like Didier to be back here and feel what I felt.’

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