Mourinho hails squad but knows defeat will come

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Speaking before tonight's Champions' League home tie with Real Betis, the Chelsea manager reflected upon the mental strengths required to maintain the kind of success which is now expected of his team.

"I like winning, and I like playing well," said the man who saw his players establish a club record of nine successive League victories on Saturday. "But you cannot win every game, and you cannot play well every game. And we are mentally very, very, very well prepared to face the other side of the coin. So if someone thinks 'the day Chelsea lose' or 'the day Chelsea start playing not so well...', or whatever psychological, negative side - I don't think so. We are very, very well prepared." The message, then, is now out there. Even when Chelsea lose, they win.

Not that Mourinho expects the other side of the coin to show its face at Stamford Bridge tonight as his side attempt to build on a Champions' League campaign that has seen them beat Anderlecht and earn a point at Liverpool.

He does, however, acknowledge that a Betis side that includes the speedy attacking talents of Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira and Joaquin Sanchez, whom he contemplated signing last season, will require Chelsea to show complete concentration.

"They are a difficult team," Mourinho said. "They have a lot of quality in attack. Coming to Stamford Bridge just to defend is difficult. So I believe they will play their normal game and we have to be very aware.

"I thought when the draw for the group was made that our group was very, very dangerous - not because of Liverpool, but because of Betis. Because Liverpool are head of the group, and every head of group is a good team. But in other groups you have the third and fourth teams easier - some teams from other kind of countries. To have Betis as the third or fourth, with a lot of good, experienced players, playing in a league like the Spanish league - they are dangerous.

"They already have three points. You imagine that Betis will beat Anderlecht at home. That gives them six points. If they win one more match against Chelsea or Liverpool it gives them nine points - and a big chance to qualify."

Betis, who were fourth in the Spanish league last season, will be hoping that Joaquin has fully recovered from the throat infection which kept him out of Sunday's league match, the first the Spanish international has missed in 72 games.

The Betis coach, Luis Aragones, was at Barcelona when Mourinho was starting out, working with the youth side while Mourinho operated as assistant manager to Bobby Robson.

"We worked together for the same aim," Mourinho said. "Our relation was always positive." Asked if he believed Chelsea were currently playing the best football in Europe, Mourinho looked quizzical, sparking a brief electrical storm of photographic flashbulbs.

"It depends on what you like," he responded. "It's a question of taste. Which sauce do you prefer...?"

Aragones was keen to stress that his players were not about to serve themselves up on a platter.

"I'm not scared of the match," he said. "We're coming here to try and win," he said. "If we can play to the best of our abilities, that could become a reality."

The Lowdown on... Real Betis

* How do they beat you?

Betis have a strong midfield, with Joaquin, Assuncao, the Brazilian Edu and Oliveira, who already has eight league goals, attacking with pace and power to support lone striker Xisco. Betis also have a solid and well-balanced defence.

* How do you beat them?

This is Betis' first season in the Champions' League and experience is lacking. Currently 12th in La Liga, they are normally quite defensive and are slow starters, taking time - often too long - to adjust to the pace of a game.

* Key man? Joaquin, who recently recovered from illness, is a very fast and capable winger who likes to dribble to the byline or head straight for goal, causing constant problems for defenders with his ball skills and slots comfortably into the 4-2-3-1 formation.