Mourinho more worried by Anderlecht and Betis than Liverpool

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The Independent Football

Considering a group that has seen his side pitched in with Liverpool, Anderlecht and Real Betis, the Portuguese declared his satisfaction at being paired with the Merseysiders but his feelings of unease at facing the other teams in Group G.

Despite losing out to Liverpool at the semi-final stage last season, by one disputed goal over the two legs, the Chelsea manager confessed that he was still happy to face the European Cup holders so soon.

"I prefer to play Liverpool than Real Madrid or AC Milan," he said. "I don't have to travel, I'm in England, I don't have to analyse the team. I know them." Chelsea were also drawn on Thursday with Belgium's most famous club, Anderlecht, and Real Betis, who will be making their debut in the Champions' League .

But Mourinho wanted to make it clear the Spaniards were no mugs and could prove an awkward obstacle on the path to the knockout phase. He said: "Betis are the best team in the fourth seeds. There are no doubts about it. We don't have FC Thun or Rosenborg or Artmedia Bratislava. We have Betis. They knocked out Monaco who reached the final last year. We also have Anderlecht who are in the competition every year. It is not a new thing for them.

"Some players in the small teams, when they listen to the Champions' League music or see a 60,000 stadium, they shake all over. It's difficult for them. But Betis have Ricardo Oliveira and Joaquin and Anderlecht have Bart Goor, Per Zetterberg and Emile Mpenza, so our group is very difficult. For Liverpool also. Imagine Liverpool losing at Betis in their first game or we don't beat Anderlecht in our first game at home. This would be a big problem for us.

"As for Liverpool, we could draw both games with them - why not? But also I would take two victories."

At the European draw, Frank Lampard missed out on being voted the best midfielder in the Champions' League last season but, nappy-changing permitting, the England international will play his 150th consecutive league game today for the Blues, against Spurs.

Mourinho praised the man who became a father for the first time on Monday and then scored two goals in Chelsea's midweek win against West Brom. "Frank is a crucial player for us," he said. "You get everything from him. He's good defensively, he's good in possession and he has the vision for a pass.

"He understands the game. Tactically he's intelligent. He scores goals from midfield and you always feel he can score. He's not a super-specialist on set-plays but now and again he scores from a free-kick." Lampard, who has 51 goals for the Premiership champions, signed from West Ham for £11m in 2001 but since Mourinho got to know him a year ago he has been just as impressed by his personality.

"He is a better person than I imagined he would be because when I arrived here I didn't know him. As a player he didn't surprise me because he was already one I liked very much. But when you work with him and see the person he is and what a professional he is you also see his ambition to become a better player. He's a fantastic character and a leader in the group.

"He has a lot of discipline, he only picks up yellow cards once every three months and opponents respect him. He works very, very hard in training and that's why he keeps up this incredible level."