Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has warned his players that Maccabi Tel Aviv are good enough to beat them ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League opener at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues go into the game as strong favourites despite their disastrous start in the Premier League, with the reigning champions having taken just four points from their opening five games.
And Mourinho is wary of the Israeli side springing a shock in west London as he looks to avoid another damaging defeat.
“They are good enough to beat us,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“I respect them. I watched them play in many matches, I did my study, I know their team. I also had information that in the last week they have trained with a different system and will probably play five defenders.
“Watford did that last season with the same manager, so we prepare for both – for them playing their normal way and also ready if they come with five defenders. We know what to do. We trust ourselves and we think we can win the game, but respect is a good saying in football.
“We know we are a better team, we have to prove that in the game.”
Mourinho – who has confirmed that Falcao will miss the clash but that Oscar is in line to return to action – also insists that he has no intention of prioritising the European competition over the club’s domestic duties.
He continued: “You have to go game to game. We know we are points behind in the Premier League but in the Champions League we know we need to qualify because it is important for the club economically and for us as professionals.
“We feel we belong to the Champions League not the Europa League and if we can get three points on Wednesday it would be a first step for us.
“It would be easy for me to say that [I prioritise the Champions League] but I cannot tell you something that is not true. We do not prioritise competitions.”