Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is hoping his side’s struggles domestically will enable them to fly under the radar all the way to Champions League success.
The Blues have suffered a dismal start to the Premier League season and lie in 14th place, just two points above the relegation zone, but on Wednesday they qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Mourinho’s former club Porto.
The Portuguese has experienced success in Europe’s elite club competition before with Porto and Inter and believes Chelsea’s woes may lead them to be underestimated by future opponents.
He told reporters: “To win the Champions League, I think it’s obvious that a team that is struggling so much like we are, is not a candidate to win it.
“In the Champions League, you have the best teams in Europe but when we won [it] with Porto in 2004 we were not candidates, when we won with Inter [Milan] in 2010 we were not candidates.
“When we were candidates, we lost two semi-finals with Real Madrid and Chelsea so let’s see – you never know.”
While a successful defence of their Premier League crown looks unlikely – Chelsea are 17 points behind surprise leaders Leicester City, who they meet on Monday – Mourinho believes a fourth-placed finish and a Champions League spot for next season is not impossible.
He added: “The Premier League boss told me a few months ago it would be good for the Premier League if Chelsea aren’t champions but he didn’t say it’s not good that we don’t finish fourth.
“While mathematically it’s still possible, let’s fight for every game and every point and see if it’s possible to finish fourth.”