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Dec 11, 2013

Mourinho eyes Drogba reunion

Jose Mourinho would relish a reunion with Chelsea legend "King" Didier Drogba in the next round of the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho watches his Chelsea side edge to victory against Steaua Bucuresti in the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho faces an anxious wait to learn of Chelsea's next opponent.

• Delaney: Three things

Drogba is now at Galatasaray, who beat Juventus 1-0 on Wednesday to qualify in second place from Group B.

"I think he deserves to come here," Mourinho told a news conference of the striker he brought to Chelsea in 2004 and whose shootout penalty secured the European Cup in the 2012 final. "I think he deserves a reception here even better than mine, because he deserves much more than me. He deserves to come here and get the reception I got against Hull City, but for Didier the double or three times better and bigger than I had.

"I know what I felt. I think he deserves that. So, yes, Galatasaray is difficult. Very difficult. But I'd like Didier to be back here and feel what I felt."

Mourinho said that winning Group E was not particularly important, as the teams in the second pot in Monday’s draw will be dangerous too.

"I think there are good teams in the second seeds," he said. "Of course we look to the top ones that won the groups, and you see there the main candidates to win the competition, the favourites to win the competition. But in the second position we have difficult teams. We have champions. You have the Russian champions, the Greek champions. A German team, Leverkusen, is always very difficult. The Turkish champions with King Didier, and who else? And Milan are Milan. They only won it seven times."

Chelsea beat Steaua 1-0 thanks to an early Demba Ba goal, but hardly dazzled against opponents with a woeful record in this competition. Mourinho suggested he always had an eye on goings on between Schalke and Basel in the group’s other match.

"It wasn't a fantastic performance. It was a comfortable performance. It's enough," he said "At the same time, in the second half, when we know that Schalke were winning 2-0, we knew only one point would be enough so we had to just control the situation from that moment. At half-time I'd said we were at the limit. If we conceded and Basel scored, we'd be second. But after that a point was enough, so we didn't have to risk or do silly things, just control the game. This is a competition too important in terms of prestige and financial situation that you cannot do silly things. You have to play safe. So it was not a fantastic performance, but it was also comfortable."

Mourinho continues to set his sights low in a seeming attempt to reduce expectation on his return to Stamford Bridge.

"I think there are teams in this moment in better conditions to win the competition, or at least to be considered favourites. It's easy to understand that Bayern Munich is a champion -- they have the same team, they played, I think, three Champions League finals in four or five years. You have Barcelona, same team and champions three times in the last five or six years. Real Madrid have the same players plus Gareth Bale, three semifinals in three years. So it's easy to understand where the favourites are.

"We have to grow up, step by step. We go into new matches now for some of my players. Some of my players didn't play any games in the knock-out stage of the Champions League - they played in the group and the Europa League – so it will be a different scenario for some of them. Let's go for the last 16."

He found time to have a dig at old adversary and predecessor Rafa Benitez, by revealing a continuing disdain for the Europa League, the trophy lifted by Benitez last season. Benitez will be back in the competition in February, after Napoli lost out to Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.

"We had one target, which was not to win the Europa League again, and that target is done," he said. "Now we have to do the best we can in the Champions League."

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