Stamford Bridge, London
6 November, 19:45 BST
Chelsea FC host Schalke in their next Champions League group stage fixture at the Stamford Bridge tonight, in what promises to be another exciting European night.
The last meeting between these two sides ended up being a one sided contest as Fernando Torres scored a wonderful a hattrick to provide a crucial win for Chelsea. The last time Schalke traveled to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea was back in 2007 and the match ended 2-0 in favour of the home side that night as Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba scored. With both the sides tied on points in Group E, the outcome of this fixture could have a massive impact on the final standings.
Team news and tactics
Chelsea made a relatively slow start to their season under new manager Jose Mourinho and the fixture list wasn’t too kind to them either. But the London side have picked up the pace in recent times and are currently second in the Premier League table, five points behind league leaders Arsenal. They are coming into this game on the back of poor defeat at the hands of Newcastle United away from home in the league – it was their first loss in their last 10 matches in all competitions.
Chelsea started their Champions League campaign with a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Basel at Stamford Bridge, but they have bounced back well from that loss, registering two big wins against Steaua Bucuresti and Schalke. The Blues are not leading the points table in Group E and can move one step closer to qualification with a win against the German side in this game.
Jose Mourinho will be without Marco van Ginkel and Fernando Torres in this game due to injuries, while Michael Essien is ineligible to participate in the Champions League. There are also concerns about the fitness of Eden Hazard after the Belgium international picked up a knock in the match against Newcastle, but he is expected to recover and feature in this game.
Mourinho is expected to make five changes to the side that was fielded against Newcastle United in the league. Samuel Eto’o will replace the injured Torres upfront, while Andre Schurrle will replace Oscar in attack. This means Mata will play a more central role, and will be flanked by Hazard and the German. Lampard will be rested for this game as Mikel makes his way back into the starting line-up alongside Ramires. There will be only one change to the defence which conceded two goals against Newcastle United as Gary Cahill replaces David Luiz at the back.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech (GK); Cole, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Mata, Schurrle; Eto’o
Schalke had a disastrous start to their season and are yet to fully recover from that. They are currently 6th in the Bundesliga points table, twelve points behind league leaders Bayern Munich. But their prime concern this season will be to qualify for the Champions League, and they are currently two points behind Borussia Monchengladbach, who occupy the last qualification spot in the league. Schalke have lost two of their last four fixtures, but are coming into this match on back of a 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin as Adam Szalai and Julian Draxler scored for the away side.
The German side started their Champions League campaign brightly with two consecutive victories against Basel and Steaua Bucuresti, but stumbled to 0-3 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in their last group stage fixture. Schalke are currently second in the points table, tied on points with Chelsea. While the English club are expected to win this group, Schalke are the favourites among the remaining three to qualify to the next round.
Schalke manager Jens Keller has a long injury list to contain with ahead of this fixture. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Chinedu Obasi and Jefferson Farfan are all out of contention for this game due to fitness concerns. The absence of Huntelaar has been a huge blow for Schalke this season, although Adam Szalai has provided the goals in recent times. Marco Hoger is suspended for this game. There are concerns about the fitness of Kyriakos Papadopoulos, and he is unlikely to feature in this match.
Jens Keller is expected to make only one change to the side he fielded against Hertha Berlin in the weekend. Felipe Santana, who came on as a late substitute in the last game, will replace Joel Matip at the back. Schalke will once again look towards Draxler to provide the magic in attack, while Szalai will be their main threat in front of the goal.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hildebrand (GK); Uchida, Santana, Höwedes, Fuchs; Aogo, Neustädter; Draxler, Meyer, Boateng; Szalai
Players to watch out for: Eden Hazard (Chelsea); Julian Draxler (Schalke)
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Schalke