Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho claimed there are no favourites in his team's UEFA Champions League group after a 2-2 home draw against Dynamo Kyiv left the Italian champions bottom of the pile.
All four teams in Group F are separated by just a single point though with Barcelona, Rubin Kazan and Kyiv all on four points and Inter on three after three games. What also makes the group stand out is that it is the only one of the eight Champions League groups to include four teams who are champions of their country.
"There's no favourite. We have the chance to qualify. With three teams on four points and one on three, eight or nine points should be enough to qualify," said Mourinho. "I didn't expect us to have only three points after three games, of course I expected more but the difference between a draw and a win is minimal.
"This group is very difficult but we already knew it would be. There's four teams who are champions of their country and if you compare it with other groups it's clear that other teams have been more fortunate whereas we four teams have been unlucky, but that's the way it is and we'll fight to the end."
The group picture could have looked very different if Barcelona had won at home to debutants Rubin but the Russian champions' stunning 2-1 win at the Camp Nou has left everything in the balance. Mourinho was asked if it would have been better for Barça to win, allowing them to run away with the group while leaving Inter's rivals for second place with fewer points.
However, the former Chelsea boss explained that if the reigning champions were to qualify in advance it would make their last game, away to Dynamo, meaningless for them, making it easier for the Ukrainians to get a result. "The equality in this group is a positive thing. The Rubin result is good because it leaves everything open," said Mourinho.
"It means that when we get to the last match we won't know who has qualified so when Barca play Dynamo at the end it will be a decisive game for them too. Every match is one where every result is possible. We have three draws and of course this one is the worst because the first was against Barcelona and the second was away, but it's difficult for everyone."
The draw means Inter have won only two of 11 Champions League games under Mourinho, continuing the club's dismal trend in Europe's premier competition despite their dominance at home. However, the Portuguese said it was too early to suggest his team has a psychological block when playing in Europe. "Wait a little while, we're only halfway through, there's three more games and we'll talk after them. I think my team will qualify," he said.
Kyiv twice took the lead through Taras Mikhalik and a Lucio own goal but Inter pegged them back through Dejan Stankovic and Walter Samuel. Even so, with two home games and only one away match left, Dynamo coach Valeri Gazzaev insisted they were in with a good chance of progressing.
"It's a good thing to be playing two more games at home. It's a very difficult group, Inter and Barça are great teams," he said. "We can do it but there's still everything left to do. Rubin and ourselves have shown ambition but we have young players who still need more experience. We played well today but it's difficult to be thrust straight into such a hard group."