Ray Wilkins says Jose Mourinho can win Champions League with unified Chelsea
'If there's one team that can keep a clean sheet in this tournament it's the Blues...'
Last Updated: 09/04/14 9:18am
Jose Mourinho can turn Chelsea's defensive solidity into Champions League glory, says Ray Wilkins.
The Blues held firm to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 and reach the semi-finals of Europe's premier club competition, Demba Ba's 87th-minute strike sending the Londoners through on away goals after the quarter-final ended 3-3 on aggregate.
The victory means Mourinho has now reached eight Champions League semi-finals - more than any other manager - including five on the spin.
And Wilkins, who played 179 times for Chelsea and 13 times for PSG, said he now believes that the Blues can go on and reclaim the Champions League trophy they won in 2012.
"They can go all the way - there's no two ways about it," said the former Chelsea assistant coach, after watching goalkeeper Petr Cech and defenders John Terry, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic nullify PSG's attacking threat.
"Their defence has solidity and Mourinho has this unbelievable record in the Champions League. He would be the first manager to win it with three clubs [after Porto and Inter Milan].
"Mourinho selected a side to really get after PSG. He has so much confidence in the back five that he picks them week in, week out.
"With the consistency of selection, they have a unity and if there is one team that can keep a clean sheet in this tournament it is Chelsea.
"They've done it throughout the Premier League this year - they've conceded fewer goals than anybody else - and they can do it in the Champions League.
"Playing against the likes of Cavani, Lucas and Lavezzi you've got a real problem. But when Chelsea attack, they always attack with a little bit of caution so when it breaks down they are always in the right position to counter what is coming at them."
Chelsea's first goal came after 32 minutes when substitute Andre Schurrle coolly slotted home after finding room in the box, the second arriving just three minutes before the end of normal time when Ba scuffed home from close range.
Wilkins said PSG only had themselves to blame for the opener for failing to deal decisively with Ivanovic's long throw into the box and praised Chelsea substitute Fernando Torres for his role in Ba's decisive goal, the striker rising to challenge for a hopeful Cahill ball into the box.
"Lucas Moura - a young, 21-year-old forward - was picking up Schurrle," reflected Wilkins. "It's very difficult when you get forwards picking up forwards because they don't think defensively. He just stands still and watches Schurrle move in and tap it in.
"But you can't give enough credit to Fernando Torres for the challenge on Alex in the build-up to the second goal. If he doesn't make it then I'm sure Alex will clear the ball 30 yards away from goal and the chance would have gone."
Ba's strike prompted Mourinho to sprint down the touchline towards his celebrating players, just as he did in 2004 when Porto beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.
After the game he confirmed that he'd passed on tactical information to strikers Torres and Ba, reminding them of their defensive duties ahead of a frantic finish in which Marquinhos forced a smart near-post save from Cech in the fourth minute of added time.
"Mourinho got there and pulled a few players out of the melee and tried to give them a bit of information but they know exactly what to do in this period of the game - make sure they defend properly," said Wilkins.
"Cech can't be beaten from that position; he was last week [by Javier Pastore] and he shouldn't have been. When the ball was cut back to Marquinhos you expect Cech to save that but if he doesn't Chelsea are out. A goalkeeper of his quality should be saving that 10 times out of 10."