Jose Mourinho expects his Chelsea side to rise to the occasion at Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday night, despite suffering a defeat at Crystal Palace which left him questioning the qualities of his players.
Mourinho conceded defeat in the English Premier League title race after a John Terry own goal resulted in a 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Palace. The Chelsea manager anticipates his players will shake off the setback in the French capital in the last-eight tie.
He said: "I don't think I need to do a lot now. Paris is the kind of match they feel comfortable to play. A big match, great stadium, opponents with top quality, a profile of referee that normally stops a lot, doesn't let aggression come into the game.
"I think they will be fine, they will be in their natural habitat in that match so I believe they can do a good match there."
Mourinho has repeatedly insisted this season that his players must learn to perform when the results really matter, unlike in the last two campaigns when Chelsea finished 25 and 14 points adrift of the Premier League champions, respectively.
He suggested some Chelsea players were out of their comfort zone at Selhurst Park, just as they had been in losses at Everton, Newcastle United and Stoke City earlier in the season. "The easiest thing to do is to play well, is to perform, when you are not playing for something big," Mourinho said.
"The difficult thing is to perform when you feel the heat. Because of that some (players) are big and some are not so big. I don't think it's courage. I think it's personality qualities. You have players for everything and you have other players that are in their habitat in some circumstances."
Mourinho mindful of future moves
Mourinho's unhappiness at Selhurst Park hinted at a wider overhaul, particularly if players on the periphery seek moves elsewhere. He also knows he must continue to develop the existing talent in the squad.
"It's clear in everybody that Chelsea next year wants to bring a striker," added Mourinho, who was tight-lipped on the futures of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba.
"It's also clear that we want to improve our players. I can't and I don't need to improve (Branislav) Ivanovic, (Gary) Cahill, John Terry. There are other guys I need to improve. I think we are doing that step by step, but it's not enough to be champions."
The defeat saw Mourinho end hopes of lifting a third Premier League title in his first season back as Manchester City have games in hand, while Liverpool claimed top spot after beating Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Mourinho had long downplayed Chelsea's title chances, even if he was thinking of the trophy at the back of his consciousness. "You have always that in the back of your mind," he added. "But you have to be realistic, you have to analyse the situation and to understand. This season to be where we are I think is an important step."
Mourinho spoke with a crestfallen Cahill as the defender slumped to the turf at the full-time whistle following the Palace loss. "He's one of the guys who shouldn't be on the floor," Mourinho said. "He's one of the guys who should walk to the dressing room with pride that he gave everything. If somebody has to sit with disappointment, it's not, for sure, the ones that gave everything."