22 October, 19:45 BST
Chelsea FC travels to Gelsenkirchen to face German side Schalke 04 in their next group stage match-up in the Champions League. The last time these two sides faced each other in this competition was back in 2007, when the two teams were drawn together in the same group. While Chelsea won the match at Stamford Bridge with Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba scoring for the home team, Schalke held them to a draw in Germany.
Schalke could virtually guarantee themselves a spot in the next round if they manage to beat the English side and Jens Keller is confident enough of achieving a positive result.
Team news and tactics
Schalke made a poor start to their domestic campaign, failing to win their opening three matches. But they have recovered well from that point onwards and are currently fifth in the Bundesliga points table, having won four of their last six games. Schalke’s main aim will be to qualify for the Champions League this season and they are just one point behind Hertha Berlin, who occupy the last Champions League qualification spot currently.
Contrary to their Bundesliga showing, the Miners have made a flying start in Europe. Schalke have won their opening two matches against Steaua Bucuresti and Basel and are yet to concede a goal in this competition this season. In their last game against Basel, star man Julian Draxler scored the winner as Schalke grabbed the top spot in the group.
Schalke are coming into this game on the back of an entertaining 2-3 win over Braunschweig in the league. Schalke went behind twice in this game, but first Max Meyer and later Leon Goretzka equalised for them. Then in the 90th minute of the match, midfielder Roman Neustädter scored the winner.
Jens Keller faces a lot of fitness concerns ahead of this fixture. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Chinedu Obasi and Anthony Annan are all out of contention for this game due to injuries. New signing Kevin-Prince Boateng is back in contention for a place in the starting eleven after missing out on their last game, but the former AC Milan midfielder is likely to start from the bench.
Keller will make only one change to the starting line-up he fielded against Braunschweig last weekend. Timo Hildebrand will return to goal in place of 25-year-old Ralf Fährmann. Draxler will once again be the key for Schalke in their quest to unlock the Chelsea defence.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hildebrand (GK); Uchida, Santana, Höwedes, Aogo; Höger, Neustädter; Draxler, Meyer, Clemens; Szalai
Chelsea have made a good start under Jose Mourinho this season and are one of the firm favourites to lift the Premier League trophy. The London club are currently second in the league table and are finally producing the type of football they are capable of.
The London side started their Champions League campaign with a disappointing loss against Basel at home. They have made impressive improvements in form since then; in fact, that was their last defeat in all competitions. Chelsea bounced back well from that opening day loss with a convincing performance against Steaua Bucuresti away from home as Ramires scored a wonderful brace. Chelsea are three points behind Schalke in the points table and will be gunning to win this game, hoping to go level on points with Schalke.
Chelsea are coming into this game on the back of a 4-1 win over Cardiff City. It was a wonderful performance by the home side, which was unfortunately overshadowed by a controversial goal. Samuel Eto’o opened his account in that match and Eden Hazard showed signs of returning to form with a brace.
Jose Mourinho is still without the likes of Marco van Ginkel and Ashley Cole due to injuries, while Michael Essien is not a part of the Champions League squad. There are also concerns about the fitness of Andre Schurrle. The German international has traveled with the squad, but is unlikely to start.
Jose Mourinho is expected to make three changes to the side that he fielded against Cardiff. David Luiz is expected to be dropped for this game after his error lead to Cardiff’s opening goal in the last match. Gary Cahill will partner John Terry in the center of the defence. Oscar, who came on as a substitute last weekend, is expected to replace Willian in the play maker role. Samuel Eto’o is likely to be dropped to the bench as Fernando Torres finds his way back into the starting line-up.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech (GK); Bertrand, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Ramires, Lampard; Hazard, Oscar, Mata; Torres
Players to watch out for: Julian Draxler (Schalke); Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Prediction: Schalke 1-2 Chelsea