Mourinho claims rotation will aid club's motivation

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho confirmed yesterday that he will rest players for tonight's Champions League tie against Paris St-Germain - but any suggestion that Chelsea will "take the game easily" was firmly, contemptuously quashed by the Portuguese serial achiever.

Jose Mourinho confirmed yesterday that he will rest players for tonight's Champions League tie against Paris St-Germain - but any suggestion that Chelsea will "take the game easily" was firmly, contemptuously quashed by the Portuguese serial achiever.

"I have already spoken with them [the players] and told them we are a better team than PSG," Mourinho said. And that goes for whatever XI he perms from his 23-man squad which was the first in this year's competition to qualify for the knock-out stages by collecting maximum points from their opening four games.

Mourinho is also in the happy position of knowing that he is using players fighting for their places - and, in some cases, their futures. So substituting Carlo Cudicini for Petr Cech, Scott Parker for Claude Makelele and Glen Johnson for Paulo Ferreira hardly dilutes the potency of his team or its desire. Added to that, Mourinho will be able to field Didier Drogba for "half an hour" as a substitute since the Ivory Coast striker has recovered from the groin operation which has seen him miss the last five weeks. "The players who play will have to do well," Drogba said. "It's not possible for them to play badly."

Although Morinho was disappointed about the two goals that his side conceded in drawing at home to Bolton Wanderers he added: "It was not a good result for us but the next day you wake up and remember that you are top of the league, top of your group in the Champions' League and in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup".

Players will also be rested in the next Champions' League tie against Porto and also in the League Cup tie away to Fulham, "two or three", Mourinho said. "If you have legs with less miles then that is better," he added, mindful of the fixtures ahead.

Then, with the transfer window opening in January, he will continue to evaluate his squad. "I don't look at names, faces or the money the club spent on players," Mourinho said. "I look just at performances and they have to fight for their position."

His own position is not causing him any concern - nor should it. "My contract is for more than this season," he said. "Sometimes there are surprises in football but I'm not waiting to be sacked this season."

Next year, he believes, people will see the best of his team - once they have had a full pre-season under his control.

They are not doing too badly right now, of course, although it will be interesting to see what kind of tempo Chelsea adopt against PSG. The result of the other game in Group H, between CSKA Moscow and Porto, will be known before kick-off and PSG, who arrived yesterday by Eurostar as an economy measure, emphasising the differences in finances with Chelsea, may decide that a draw is an acceptable outcome and could try and kill the match.

The PSG coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, said: "Barcelona and Chelsea are the best sides in the competition this season. I think that Chelsea can do better than they did in the competition last season and I believe that can go on and win it."

Chelsea (probable, 4-3-3): Cudicini; Johnson, Terry, Gallas, Bridge; Smertin, Lampard, Parker; Duff, Gudjohnsen, Kezman.

Paris St-Germain (probable, 4-4-2): Letizi; Pichot, Pierre-Fanfan, Yepes, Armand; Cissé, Cana, M'Bami, Mendy; Reinaldo, Pauleta.

Referee: R Temmink (Netherlands).

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