Inter coach Jose Mourinho has suggested that Chelsea are not as strong a side as they were under his stewardship.
Speaking ahead of the clubs’ Champions League last 16 clash, the former Blues boss claimed a “strong” team would not have dropped the number of points the Premier League leaders have under Carlo Ancelotti this season.
Chelsea head into Wednesday’s first leg at the San Siro four points clear of champions Manchester United with 11 games remaining.
But Mourinho believes his former team are far from invincible, having drawn four and lost four of their 27 league matches under Ancelotti.
“The Premier League is never easy – every game normally is difficult,” said the Portuguese. “But when a team is strong, strong, strong, strong, strong, it doesn’t lose so many matches, so many points.”
Mourinho, who led Porto to Champions League glory in 2004 and Chelsea to consecutive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, is looking forward to the encounter with his old club.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “It’s a big game for Inter, its a big game for Chelsea. It’s a big game also for Europe because I don’t see in these last 16-round matches another one with two teams of these dimensions. So I think this is the real big game of this last 16.”
But he is hoping his former players will not take any extra delight in beating his team, should they manage to do so over two legs.
“If a Chelsea player is happier to beat me than to beat another manager I will be very sad,” he said. “I just don’t understand that. I can’t think there would be any special pleasure from that.
“Just as if I am happier to beat them than to beat another team, then I think they have a reason to be very unhappy with me. We’re all professionals. I want to win, they want to win.
“Somebody will win, somebody will lose – this we know, this we accept. But there should be nothing more.”