The west Londoners suffered the ignominy of being the first holders of the coveted trophy to exit at the group stages last year, finishing third – seven months after their dramatic win over Bayern Munich in Allianz Arena.
Mourinho, though, says to improve the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, André Schürrle, and David Luiz, Chelsea must advance past the groups stages.
“We want to qualify for the next stage,” said Mourinho. “If you ask me for my objective, I just want to qualify for the next group stage. It’s important for the kids.
“It’s important for everyone. We start the match with four players under 22. And that, as we think in the club and the evolution of the club, is very important to play in a big stage.”
Mourinho went onto say no-one at the club wanted to slip down to the second tier of European football again – even though Chelsea won last season’s Europa League, beating Benfica in the final.
“We don’t see the Europa League as the best habitat for players who want to be big players – we have to play Champions League,” added the Portuguese.
Mourinho did warn that Group E will be hard to qualify from. Basel, Steaua Bucharest and German side Schalke 04 make up the Blues’ opposition in the initial stages of the Champions League.
Basel, in particular, famously sent Manchester United crashing out of the competition in 2011. The current Swiss champions also beat Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s Europa League before they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Chelsea.
“We have this group with Schalke, who people don’t know how good they are – I know, with Basel who a lot of people think play well but are not so difficult.
“I just remember two years ago, Manchester United out to Basel, last season, Tottenham out to Basel. And last year, matches against Chelsea, we got through.”
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