REUTERS – All of Chelsea’s potential opponents are hoping to be drawn against the Premier League side in the last 16 of the Champions League, manager Jose Mourinho has said.
Mourinho’s men finished top of Group G after beating Porto 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and face one of six group runners-up over two legs in the competition’s first knockout round.
The Blues will learn their next opponents after Monday’s draw and could face either Paris St Germain, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Juventus, Roma or Gent.
Arsenal and Dynamo Kiev are the two other runners-up, but cannot be drawn against Chelsea as the rules bar teams from the same country and those that have already played each other in the group stages from facing off in the next round.
“Every team finishing second wants to play us or Zenit St Petersburg,” Mourinho told reporters after a win that eased the pressure on the two-times Champions League winner.
“Every team doesn’t want to play Barcelona, they don’t want to play Real Madrid, they don’t want to play Atletico (Madrid), they don’t want to play Bayern Munich.”
Chelsea are 14th in the Premier League table after losing eight of their 15 games so far and speculation was rife that Mourinho would be sacked if they failed to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The Portuguese will be happier with his team’s form in Europe, where they have four wins, a draw and one defeat en route to the knockout stages and can take heart from an encouraging performance from striker Diego Costa.
Mourinho handed the Spaniard a start after dropping him to the bench for Chelsea’s last two games against Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth and Costa was a constant thorn in Porto’s side.
“He could have scored two or three goals today,” Mourinho said, while agreeing that Costa was still short of confidence.
“What is clear was his effort, his commitment, his great movement, which was something he didn’t have for the last couple of matches.
“His touch wasn’t the best. So, yes, clearly there’s a lack of confidence but his attitude was very good and his movement was much better. The goals are coming.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)