Luiz Felipe Scolari believes the winners of Chelsea's crucial clash with Liverpool on Sunday will go on to lift the Premier League title. Scolari takes his Chelsea team to Anfield this weekend for a match that the Brazilian claims is effectively an eliminator for the right to challenge reigning champions Manchester United.
United, who host Everton on Saturday, lead the table by two points from Chelsea and Liverpool and have a game in hand, so defeat for either team would be a catastrophic blow. Scolari knows the stakes are high but he is convinced the momentum from success in such a vital match can provide the impetus to overhaul United.
"It's a game that, maybe, will decide the direction to be champions if we win," Scolari said. "It'll put us in front of Liverpool or behind, near Manchester or not. "How much will it damage us if we lose? 100 percent because we'll lose three points.
"It's a fantastic game and I think, if we create three or four chances and we score some goals, we'll have a good chance. "Before the Middlesbrough game we were under pressure, in fourth position and Aston Villa had won.
"Now we are in second position and for our confidence it is very good. We know we are behind Manchester and together with Liverpool, we are not better than these two teams. "But we played better than before in the last five games, scored more and have shown more heart in the games."
After failing to win any of their four matches against the 'big four' this season - including a 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool - Scolari knows Chelsea desperately need a statement victory at Anfield. The shock of losing 3-0 at Manchester United earlier this month appears to have shaken Chelsea into life and back to back league wins have kept them hot on United's heels.
In contrast, Liverpool are in danger of slipping out of the title race after drawing their last three league games. Late goals by Everton and Wigan have cost Rafa Benitez's team first place and raised questions about the Liverpool manager's cautious tactics.
Benitez's astonishing rant against Ferguson and his post-match talk of unspecified "crazy" incidents during the Wigan match give the impress that he may be cracking up under the pressure of going for the title. But Scolari has had to deal with criticism himself this season and he believes the Spaniard will be unaffected by the situation.
"Benitez is a fantastic coach with good players. We'll need more 'adaptation' than in the other games for this match," Scolari said. "I don't know what's happened with Benitez. I know when we've drawn or lost here, we've needed to change something but I don't know what's happened there.
"Look at me, I lost 14 points at Stamford Bridge and I'm not a bad coach, because I draw many games here. This is normal because teams in the Premier League are strong." The former Portugal coach even backed Benitez's rant at Ferguson and made a veiled reference to his belief that, unlike United, Chelsea have suffered from poor refereeing at Stamford Bridge this season.
"It's one of his ideas and I haven't spoken to him about it. Maybe I will at the weekend," Scolari said. "I understand. I understand very well. I understand that,sometimes, when we play there at Stamford Bridge I know what happens."
Scolari also admitted he is unlikely to add any new faces before the transfer window shuts and rubbished reports of a bid for Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez, who has yet to agree a permanent transfer to Old Trafford. "I understand the world. It changes. The fans, the players, the coaches need to understand the changes. Now, for two or three years minimum, I agree with this method," he said.