Having drawn their previous encounter 1-1 at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea go into their Champions League fixture against FC Schalke 04 knowing that they must earn 3 crucial points in their bid to earn a place in the Round of 16. As emphasized by Jose Mourinho, Chelsea will be looking to avoid a desperate must-win situation later in the tournament and will try and ease past Chelsea’s former manager Roberto Di Matteo‘s. Di Matteo on the other hand claims that he is not looking for revenge but seeks only 3 important points as he looks to save Schalke’s fortunes.
FC Schalke 04
Having won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012, Roberto Di Matteo returns to face his former club as he looks to guide FC Schalke 04 to the Round of 16. Battling Sporting Club de Portugal and NK Maribor for a top 2 finish in the Group G, FC Schalke 04 will be looking to get a point against Chelsea who are yet to lose a game in the group stages.
FC Schalke 04 lost to Sporting CP 4-2 away from home and will be looking for a good performance against a resilient Chelsea side that is increasingly looking like one of the favourites to conquer Europe this year.
Having only recently taken charge of FC Schalke 04, it will be interesting to see how Matteo looks to contain the likes of Costa, Hazard and Fabregas who have wrecked havoc in the English Premier League.
FC Schalke 04 will be without the services of their star player Julian Draxler who is out with a torn tendon. He joins Sidney Sam, Sead Kolasinac and Jerfferson Farfan in the list of injured players and will be sitting out the clash against Chelsea.
Matteo could opt for a 5-3-2 formation and try and neutralize Chelsea’s ability to dictate the game. Ralf Fährmann will stand between the posts for Schalke and is likely to be supported by Howedes, Kaan Ayhan and Kirchhoff in a 3-man defensive line up. They are expected to be supported by full backs Uchida and Dennis Aogo. Boateng is likely to lead the midfield and will be supported by Neustadter and Hoger with Huntelaar and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting leading the team’s attack.
Though the opportunity to face his former club will entice Matteo, he reveals that the game is not about him but about FC Schalke 04 looking for a win against Chelsea.
“I spent many years there, but this is no time for sentimentalities, I want to beat Chelsea. Tomorrow we will focus on our work, nothing else. I have no thoughts of revenge.”
Expected Starting Eleven: Ralf Fährmann (GK); Howedes, Kaan Ayhan, Kirchhoff, Uchida, Dennis Aogo, Boateng, Neustadter, Hoger, Huntelaar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Leading the group with 8 points, Chelsea will be looking to win this game in order to ensure their qualification for the Round of 16. Manager Jose Mourinho has admitted that his side will be playing a lot of fixtures in December and will look to avoid the pressure of a must-win situation in the final game.
“If we lose two matches we will end up in the Europa League. So we have two matches to qualify, but we have so many matches in December, if we can avoid the pressure of a final match it would be very good for us.”
On an unbeaten run, Mourinho’s Chelsea is looking extremely strong this season and despite their hiccups in the group stages, they will be severely disappointed to miss out on a top finish. Coming from a 1-2 win over Liverpool and a 2-0 win over West Brom, Chelsea will look to put forward their best foot forward despite the pressure of facing Sunderland over the weekend.
Petr Cech could get the nod ahead of Thibaut Courtois as Chelsea look to hold on to their keeper who has fallen down the ranks at Stamford Bridge. He is likely to be supported by Cahill and Terry who will be partnered by Ivanovic and Azpilicueta in the defence.
Oscar, Matic and Fabregas are likely to start the game and Mourinho will look to exploit the wings with the presence of Hazard and Willian who are both fast and good with the ball. Diego Costa should lead the attack as the Spaniard has been sensational in his debut season at Chelsea.
Expected Starting Eleven: Petr Cech (GK); Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas, Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Diego Costa
Prediction: FC Schalke 04 1-2 Chelsea
Despite their home advantage, Chelsea will be expected to win the game and the presence of Hazard, Oscar, Diego Costa and Fabregas in the middle will give Mourinho the advantage.
Player To Watch Out For: Hazard
Brimming with talent and potential, Eden Hazard is the player to watch out for as he looks to take Europe by a storm. Playing an important role in the season so far, Hazard’s ability to move swiftly and create spaces has been instrumental for Jose Mourinho this season.