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Mourinho: Salah has many years to play and improve
The Blues’ had already secured their progress into the Champions League knockout stage draw as one of the top seeds, and so Mourinho made six changes to the starting eleven that lost to Newcastle over the weekend.
Mohamed Salah was one of those changes, making only his third start of the 2014/2015 season – having struggled to break into the side with the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar and Andre Schurrle all on form.
Despite his limited playing time, the 22-year-old Egyptian – who has been linked with several clubs across Europe recently – was one of the stand-out performers against the Portuguese side, and one of the players Mourinho singled-out in a post-match interview.
The Chelsea manager said: “We did what we had to do. It was a good reaction [to the Newcastle defeat] and it was good for some players to have more minutes. I’m really happy with the victory and many of the things we did during the game.
“The ones who are playing regularly, they faced the game in the right way. Those that don’t always play, they came in very well. When the game was 2-1 there could have been some emotion but when it went to 3-1 the game was over and the better side won.”
“We have a good squad. We have people who need to grow up – people like Salah, like Zouma – people who have many many years to play and to improve. It’s good that we have this kind of performance because it’s a game without the pressure.”
The Portuguese manager believes there are no easy teams in the next round, including FC Basel, who he recalls defeated the Blues twice last year – with Salah scoring in both games.
“We have five possible opponents and everyone is hard. People may think Basel is easy but we lost twice against them last year and they beat Liverpool and a few years ago they beat Man United, so I don’t think they are easy. Paris would be good because it is easy for us to travel and the fans to travel, but we can’t decide the draw.
When questioned about if he could add a third Champions League trophy to his collection this year, Mourinho replied: “Last year we were close and we didn’t have the team playing in such high levels as this season so we can dream with it.
“Let’s see if the sharks let us do that because there are a few sharks on the ocean.”