Jose Mourinho has insisted that once Manchester United reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, they instantly become contenders to win the tournament.
The Portuguese is preparing his side to face La Liga club Sevilla away from home on Wednesday night in the Round of 16 of the competition, with the second leg at Old Trafford in a couple of weeks.
Should the Reds overcome Sevilla, who sit fifth in Spain’s top division currently, they’ll be in the draw for the quarter-finals. Mourinho believes dreams of winning Europe’s elite club competition start in the quarter-finals, and that once the Champions League reaches that stage, everyone becomes contenders, including Man United.
“I normally say Champions League dreams, they start around the quarter finals,” Mourinho told reporters in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Sevilla clash. “The last 16 looks a long way to go.”
Mourinho has already lifted the Champions League twice, with two different clubs in FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan, as part of a treble, in 2010.
“I never thought I was going to win with Inter or Porto before reaching the quarters.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “Some clubs are more ready to win it, but at the quarters anything can happen.”
“I won with Porto, they were a very young team, unexperienced at this level with so many players playing UCL for the first time, then with Inter, which was the opposite, lots of experience. I think this squad is more in the middle.”
United are expected to beat Sevilla, but it’s far from a simple tie. Mourinho needs his best players to perform at their best, which has rarely happened at the same time this season. Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku must also be at the top of their games, and if that is the case, there are very few teams who could stop United from scoring.