Chelsea’s José Mourinho eager to win group at Schalke and lighten load

• Victory over Schalke would secure top spot for Chelsea
• Mourinho says Champions League vital to team’s evolution
• Mourinho guards against Chelsea complacency
• Di Matteo needs to justify big name status at Schalke

José Mourinho has said winning the Champions League is not necessarily a “consequence of great work” before Chelsea’s confrontation with Roberto Di Matteo, with the current manager suggesting a better gauge of achievement is the ability to build a consistently successful team.

Mourinho has twice won the trophy – his first victory was with Porto in Schalke’s Veltins-Arena a decade ago – though it was Di Matteo who secured Chelsea’s only European Cup, in 2012 in Munich. The team then included a number of the present squad – Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Mikel John Obi and Gary Cahill played at the Allianz Arena, with Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Ramires suspended. Chelsea, who finished sixth in the Premier League, won on penalties.

Mourinho’s immediate target remains qualification for the knockout phase, with victory against Schalke to guarantee finishing top of Group G, though he is intent on longer-term progress. “I want to win the next match, I want to make the team come up,” he said. “I’ve said many times that winning the Champions League is not a consequence of great work. Sometimes it is not. You can win the Champions League in the worst season. You can finish fifth and win the Champions League, right? Liverpool did and Chelsea too.

“So the Champions League is not something where you can say: ‘This is the direction I want to go because I’ve won that competition.’ A knockout competition is something that always has a big percentage of unpredictability. I can do nothing to guarantee winning it. I can only work to improve my team all the time, make a very good team like we are doing. Me working on the pitch, the club board working at other levels to make a great team, like we did in 2004, 2005, 2006 which ended with that Champions League [victory in 2012], but there is nothing more we can do.”

Mourinho will pick his strongest available team in Gelsenkirchen as he seeks to win the group at Schalke’s expense, although he would not be drawn on his opposite number. “Don’t ask me to speak about him,” he added. “History is history: he was on the Chelsea bench when they won the Champions League, so his is an historic name in this club. My name is also in the history of this club. A club is made of many names, not one or two or one player or one manager. I made my history here and now I have the chance to make more history here, and he was Chelsea manager and he did his history here. I have nothing more to say.

“Now we have two matches but it would be better for us to qualify here. We have so many matches in December, if we can avoid a crucial match and that pressure it would be very good for us. The reality is we need points. This team is one state of evolution and going into Europa League would be very bad. A team gets better and evolution is faster when they play in the best competition against the best teams.”