Once he had steered the conversation away from all things Pep, Real and Barça, José Mourinho showed a certain enthusiasm for the Uefa Super Cup. Friday's showpiece at the Eden stadium in Prague, he stressed, was "an opportunity", though the silverware on offer was not the priority. "After the Europa League last year, this is important for us," said the Chelsea manager. "The Champions League is a different planet. I don't want my players to feel that, just because they did well in the Europa League, they'll do well in this competition too."
Mourinho is acting as educator these days, his frequent reminders this is a young squad – certainly when compared to Bayern Munich's seasoned champions – serving to underline the long-term nature of the project he has assumed at Stamford Bridge second time round. That many of this team were at the club when Roberto Di Matteo's side oversaw victory in the elite competition at the Allianz Arena in 2012 hardly matters. This is about readjusting after last season's success in the lesser competition: a wake-up call before the confrontations with Schalke, Basel and Steaua Bucharest to come, even if the last two of their Champions League group opponents were actually beaten en route to the lesser trophy last season.
All concerned would like to deliver a statement of intent in Prague. Chelsea were humiliated in this match last season, Radamel Falcao and Atlético Madrid running amok in Monaco with the 4-1 defeat noted by Roman Abramovich as evidence of Di Matteo's apparent limitations as a manager. The Super Cup never used to feel like a priority, but it effectively contributed heavily to the Italian's dismissal. The current squad were scarred by the whole experience. Branislav Ivanovic has spoken since of seeking redemption. Petr Cech, albeit a local keen to return to Prague, even mentioned competing in this fixture as a priority on the flight out to Amsterdam for last season's Europa League final.
They will both surely play a part against Bayern. Samuel Eto'o, now signed from Anzhi Makhachkala on a one-year contract, and Willian are not in the Czech Republic but Juan Mata, who has been relatively under-used to date, will hope to start with Mourinho reaffirming he remains integral at the club. "He didn't play at Manchester United but I always have my reasons, and I have a duty to explain them to the players," he said. "That I did. We have no problem. He's a very important player for us, I want him to stay, he wants to stay."
David Luiz trained on Thursday night but he may be limited to a cameo role after hamstring trouble in a match that will test Chelsea's credentials. Bayern are under new management and Pep Guardiola is still finding his feet – "The players have helped me more than I have helped them so far," admitted the Spaniard – but they are a side that still oozes power, presence and poise.
"Bayern's strength is the team," said Mourinho. "The team is made up of end products, a team of players in the best moment of their careers. I guess their average age is 27 or 28, all very experienced, all year after year in the best competitions, not just with the club but the national team. They come from a season when they showed they were the perfect team, because only perfect teams can win the treble. So that's their best quality: this incredible footballistic power, the personality they have, and as end products they are fantastic."
And, for all the Chelsea manager's attempts to deflect the subject, it will eventually come back to a duel between Mourinho and Guardiola. Chelsea had twice courted the Spaniard, immediately after Di Matteo's Champions League triumph and once they had lost faith in the Italian at the start of last season, but had been unable to convince him to come to London. Regardless, the former Barça manager hopes to coach in the Premier League at some stage. "I'd like to live that experience, but in a few years yet. Chelsea have a super trainer now. And Bayern do, too."