Porto head coach Julen Lopetegui has jumped to the defence of Jose Mourinho following Chelsea’s poor start to the season.
The Premier League champions have lost three of the opening seven games of their title defence and sit eight points behind leaders Manchester United following their 2-2 draw with Newcastle United.
Mourinho has also come under fire as a result of the departure of club doctor Eva Carneiro after his public criticism of the medic, while he has persisted in a feud with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, specifically in the aftermath of Chelsea’s win over the Gunners and the ensuing suspension of Diego Costa by the Football Association.
Lopetegui, however, has described the man who led Porto to the Champions League title in 2004 as “incredible” and says their league form has no bearing on the threat they pose in Europe.
“I have great respect for Mourinho. He has been incredible so far, very important to Porto because of his great achievements at national and international level,” he said on Monday.
“Their league position does not influence their matches in the Champions League – they won their first game 4-0 [Maccabi Tel Aviv]. They are a great team with great potential and we need to play really well, to our limits, and be technically and tactically perfect.”
Porto face Chelsea the day after their 122nd anniversary and Lopetegui admits it would be very special to mark the occasion with three points.
“It would be great to celebrate the club’s anniversary with a win,” he added.
“We are talking about a team that has top players and a top coach. We are a team with a lot of hopes, ambitions and belief, but they will push us to our limits.”