London – Jose Mourinho will give Juan Mata a start in Tuesday's Champions League clash at Steaua Bucharest, a game the Chelsea boss insists his team cannot afford to lose.
Having lost 2-1 at home to Basel in the first group match, Mourinho conceded Chelsea could not afford to drop three more points in the Romanian capital.
“Tuesday is the game that we cannot lose,” he said.
“Even a draw, probably, is not a good result for us so now we have to prepare ourselves.
“We have to get 12 points to be out of any danger so if we lose there we still have four matches to play and we will have to win them all. We don't want to put ourselves under so much pressure.”
Spain midfielder Mata has started just three of the nine games in Mourinho's second spell in charge of Chelsea so far, including a League Cup tie against third-tier Swindon Town, as the Portuguese has been unimpressed with his work-rate.
Yet Mata was so influential coming off the bench in the 1-1 Premier League draw at Chelsea's London rivals Tottenham on Saturday that Mourinho decided he now deserves to be rewarded.
“This is the way players have to say 'I want to play',” Mourinho explained.
“'Blah, blah, blah' is not good, conversations with the media is not good, the agent's blah, blah, blah is not good; good is this – the effort he made against Swindon and the way he changed the team in the second half (against Tottenham).
“And because of that I am a very happy manager who says 70 hours in advance he plays against Steaua Bucharest. He (Mata) won that by himself.”
At White Hart Lane, Chelsea had been trailing to a Gylfi Sigurdsson goal until John Terry headed home Mata's free-kick in the 65th minute.
Chelsea were on top when Fernando Torres was sent off in the 81st minute for a second bookable offence.
Both of the Spain striker's yellow cards had been the result of clashes with Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham's Belgium international defender, yet there appeared to be minimal contact second time around.
Mourinho was convinced Vertonghen was guilty of play-acting, arguing the Spurs man's actions had been against the spirit of the game, especially in England.
“This is about the game and especially the game in this country,” he said. “Even before I arrived here I knew what the game is and the principles you have to play.
“Things you do in other countries, people say 'oh, the guy was clever, he pretends it was a penalty or a red card'. People say this player is really amazing but not in England. That's why I don't think the referee is guilty.”
Mourinho insisted Vertonghen shouldn't have been on the pitch anyway as he had escaped punishment for a foul in his previous match, a cup tie with Aston Villa, that had seen an opponent's shorts brought down in the penalty area.
“He is a fantastic player but he is a special guy because three days ago he left the Aston Villa striker naked and it was not a penalty or a red card,” Mourinho said. “Vertonghen should not have played this game, he should have been suspended.”
Saturday's match was also the first between Mourinho and Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, his former scout at Chelsea and Inter Milan.
The two men are no longer friends but Villas-Boas agreed Torres's red card had indeed been harsh.
“It was difficult for the referee to judge,” Villas-Boas said.
“I don't think Fernando went in nastily to deserve a sending off. The referee decided both players went in, in an aggressive way, but it was probably an unfair sending-off.
Tottenham had started the day level on points with Premier League leaders Arsenal but the draw, combined with the Gunners' victory away to Swansea, left them two points adrift of their arch-rivals as Chelsea remained two points behind Spurs. – Sapa-AFP