Jose Mourinho claims his Chelsea team are not favourites to win this season’s Champions League.
The Portuguese says the likes of Bayern Munich, in particular, and the two Spanish giants -- Real Madrid and Barcelona -- remain too far ahead but that his side are one of a group of clubs that can disrupt them.
"I think our chances this season, which is my first season, are not compatible with the chances other clubs have," Mourinho said. "I think other clubs have completely different stabilities, squads, evolution of the team, to be considered the favourites to win the competition.
"If you reach the quarter-final, which is the next step, I used to say every team has a chance to win it, but in my analysis, I think we are not considered one of the favourites to win the competition.
"My opinion? Bayern... [they are] European champions, are a top club, same players, new manager, same team, unbelievable stability of the team but one less than was in the final the year before, with fantastic stability at this level.
"[Also] Barcelona, Real Madrid -- these three teams are clearly, in terms of potential and responsibilities, in front, but I could say other teams are very strong, and as I was saying, when one of these teams arrive in the last eight anything can happen.
"These teams are obviously [Manchester] City, [Manchester] United, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea... there are a group of teams arriving there, but we are still in the first phase and in the last 16 we will find a difficult process, because some important teams will finish second.
"You can have City, [Borussia] Dortmund, Juventus -- if they don’t lose -- you can have teams finish second that can beat anyone who [finishes] first, so it is an interesting competition as always."
Chelsea’s lack of "stability", as Mourinho puts it, has been evident in an under-scoring strike force and a recent haplessness in defence. While the side’s trio of centre-forwards have only scored three league goals between them, the backline has now conceded six in the last two games to Sunderland and Stoke City.
Mourinho claims, however, this is the inevitable consequence of a change in style and does not blame his defence, but rather bad luck. "If we are in trouble, there are 17 teams with more trouble than us," he said.
"Again I have to go in the direction of that game [at Stoke] -- a team that played in the way we played in the first half has to be winning 4-0, and we were at 1-1. Why? Because we didn’t score the goals we should have done and conceded a goal with a mistake, so we were in trouble because I think the most difficult thing in football is to play the way we are playing.
"It’s much more difficult to play offensive, it’s much more difficult to play creative, it’s much more difficult to play dynamic in the team, in the positions. The easiest thing to do in football is to organise a team to play defensively.
"It’s also easy to organise a team to play attacking but with stability in the positions where every player plays all the time in the same position. The dynamic in the team is the most difficult thing. We are creating a lot, we are playing very, very nice football.
"We have to kill opponents, we have to score goals. You can’t tell me you score two goals away and you lost by two goals away. I know because at the same time we are also conceding goals defensively but I think in this moment if we train defensive corners against dummies, I think one dummy will score.
"Because, all the rebounds they go to the opponent, I think the rebounds they go to the dummies too. If you remember the goals against Sunderland, and everybody was talking about defensive mistakes, I didn’t see the defensive mistakes. I was in this room with the players for an hour after the Sunderland game, analysing every image, every frame, slow motion, trying to find where we can improve, what we did wrong and we did nothing wrong.
"We did nothing wrong in these three goals. The ball was going here, there, goal. So I didn’t want to train against the dummies, but again if I say we are in trouble, I want to mean we were in trouble in this game. It was unbelievable we lost this game, the same way it’s unbelievable how we lost against Everton.
"Against Everton, half-time [it should have been] 0-5. I think only Andre Schuerrle [failed to score] three goals against Tim Howard, and in the last minute of the first half they scored and we lost the game. So I think we are creating a lot. We have to score goals and kill opponents. If we can’t do that, we have to be very safe at the back.
"Am I going to change the style, and play more defensive players? No. Am I going to play David Luiz in front of the central defenders? No. Am I going to play with four plus two and the wingers close behind and leaving Fernando Torres in attack waiting for a counter-attack, waiting for a long ball, to try and win 1-0? No. So we [continue in] the same direction."