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Mourinho targets smooth start

Published: Tuesday 13 September 2005, 17.10CET
Three points against RSC Anderlecht would be a perfect start to Chelsea FC's campaign in a "dangerous group", according to manager José Mourinho.
by Trevor Haylett
from London

Tournament statistics

ChelseaAnderlecht

Goals scored9
 
1
Attempts on target38
 
20
Attempts off target38
 
25
Corners25
 
20
Offsides35
 
25
Fouls committed172
 
83
Yellow cards17
 
6
Red cards1
 
1

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Published: Tuesday 13 September 2005, 17.10CET

Mourinho targets smooth start

Three points against RSC Anderlecht would be a perfect start to Chelsea FC's campaign in a "dangerous group", according to manager José Mourinho.

After successive defeats for Chelsea FC at the semi-final stage of the UEFA Champions League, manager José Mourinho has set his sights on going one step further in this season's competition but warns that his club have been drawn in a "dangerous group".

Strong start
The English champions begin another quest for the trophy Mourinho says is the "crown everyone wants to have" with a home fixture in Group G against RSC Anderlecht. Chelsea have started their campaign with impressive results - five wins in five Premiership games so far and yet to concede a goal - but their coach, a Champions League winner in 2003/04 with FC Porto, spoke of possible pitfalls ahead.

'We want the final'
"We want to dominate in England, we want to win the Premiership more times and the natural consequence is to succeed in the Champions League," Mourinho said. "I don't know if it will be this season or next but the reality is we have had two successive semi-final appearances and we want the next step which is the final.

Unlucky draw
"But I have to say we have not been lucky with this group. We knew we would be drawn with a big team, Liverpool [FC] or Real Madrid [CF] or [FC] Barcelona or [FC] Bayern [München] but we were not lucky with the third and fourth seeds.

'Dangerous group'
"There are teams without experience of the competition, teams from Bratislava or Switzerland, but we are in with a good Spanish side [Real Betis Balompié] and also Anderlecht who have years and years of experience at this level. It is a dangerous group and we need three points to start us off in the right way."

Left-back conundrum
Mourinho has a decision to make at left-back with Asier Del Horno sidelined with a thigh muscle injury and Wayne Bridge still to recover fitness after a broken leg. He could switch William Gallas there or move Paulo Ferreira from the other flank and retain Geremi at right-back. The Cameroonian international played, and scored, in that role against Sunderland AFC on Saturday.

Makelele wait
John Terry, who returned from the knee injury which kept him out of England's last two FIFA World Cup qualifiers to face Sunderland, suffered no adverse reaction while a possible comeback for Claude Makelele will depend on how he felt after Monday night's training session. Mourinho said it would be "crazy" of him to deny that Chelsea possessed better players than their Belgian opponents but predicted that the two games against them would be difficult.

Anderlecht's incentive
"Anderlecht will be fighting hard to be in the next round and if that's not possible they will be fighting hard to be in the UEFA Cup," he said. "I have shown the players a video of some of their games and they have a good team. I like them."

Low expectations
However, Anderlecht struck a less bullish note themselves, coach Frank Vercauteren pointing out that it was an honour to begin the campaign at the home of such an illustrious club and insisting that Belgium expectations remained at a low level. "It is clear who are the favourites in this game and it is clear we don't have a lot to lose," he said. "All I can ask my team is that they do their best. If we are beaten by the better team then at least there will be no questions we can ask of ourselves.

Vercauteren realistic
"As a sportsman you always play to win even though this is one of the most difficult games to start a Champions League programme. You can have the ambition to reach the second round but I prefer to start on a realistic and lower level."

Last updated: 13/09/05 11.12CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2005/matches/round=2201/match=1100262/prematch/preview/index.html#mourinho+targets+smooth+start

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