PORTO, Portugal (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho complained about a “witch-hunt” by the footballing authorities against Diego Costa ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League Group G match at Porto.

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Chelsea”s Diego CostaAction Images via Reuters / John SibleyLivepic

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The Spain striker was banned retrospectively for three domestic matches by the English FA after being found guilty of violent conduct in the 2-0 win over Arsenal earlier this month.

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Costa was unavailable for Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle United but will be back for Chelsea’s Champions League meeting with Mourinho’s former club Porto.

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Asked by a reporter where his team would be if they had 11 Costas, Mourinho replied: “I think we would lose every game because the desire to suspend him is so big that you wouldn’t have enough players to start the game.

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“I am happy to only have one and let him play until they decide to suspend him again. There is a witch-hunt going on against him.”

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Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas, addressing the same news conference, agreed.

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“[Costa is] frustrated and rightly so,” said Fabregas. “We all know why he is. Some people understand it, some people don’t.

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“It’s very unfair what has happened to him. He’s a key player for us…a player who has to score our goals and finish our moves.

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“If you want to win this competition you all have to be at the top of your game but you also need your big players to perform, he’s one of them for sure,” added Fabregas.

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Chelsea won their opening Champions League game of the season, 4-0 at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv, but their form has been poor in the Premier League where the title holders are sixth from bottom.

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“Away games in the Champions League are always difficult,” said Mourinho. “They are a big side and want to win but Porto know they will not face a weak team.

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“The fact Porto are top of the Portuguese league is totally normal because of the quality of their squad.

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“To be untouchable, you have to be consistent. Right now we have fantastic players but football is about today, not yesterday.

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“To be untouchable in football, only consistency can give you that status.”

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Mourinho refused to be drawn on Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas, a player he had a strained relationship with during their time together at Real Madrid.

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“I know what you’re going to ask,” the Portuguese said as he cut off a reporter’s question. “I’ll salute Casillas tomorrow but there’s no point wasting time discussing it.” – Reuters

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