Champions League Preview – Schalke 04 VS Chelsea

Chelsea continues their Champions League campaign this week, with a match against German heavyweights Schalke 04 in Germany. The Blues are in scintillating form and are unbeaten in 12 games thus far this season.  While Di Matteo’s side have also been impressive, with his Schalke side ending Wolfsburg’s six match unbeaten streak and currently sitting on 7th in the Bundesliga table.

However the German side are currently dealing with injuries to  key players like Draxler(hamstring),  Farfan (Knee), Sam (Thigh), Giefer(Groin),Goretzka(Hamstring) and Obasi(unspecified) are all out injured, and the German side are likely to have a torrid time against last year’s semi-finalist.

The Blues however has no severe injury concerns and seem rearing to go, on the back of a 2-0 victory over West Brom at Stamford Bridge over the weekend. With players like Costa, Fabregas and Hazard all in good form, another impressive performance from the London team seems inevitable.

Essential Facts

Chelsea beat Schalke by 3 goal margins in both the home and away fixtures in the Champions League last season and drew their first leg encounter against the German side this season.

Chelsea’s record against Bundesliga opponents is W9 D5 L4

Chelsea’s record against the Bundesliga outfit is impressive, as they have won 3 times and drawn twice versus the German side.

Recent Form in all competitions

Chelsea:   DWWDWW

Schalke 04: WLWLLW

For the London side, the stakes seem simple enough: win and progress to the next round as leaders of the group. The Blues have been formidable this season, avoiding defeat in their last 18 competitive matches, winning 14 of them.

With a busy schedule ahead, the Chelsea manager might seek to seal his side’s qualification, in other to rest key players for the busy holiday period that the English top flight league is apparently known for.

Roberto Di Matteo will be hoping to all but seal his side’s place in the knockout stages with a victory against a side he won the competition with in 2012.

The German side will welcome Jose Mourinho’s side knowing that a win might be enough to send them through, depending on the result of the Sporting Lisbon v. Maribor tie.

Di Matteo is unlikely to rest players with qualification for the last 16 yet to be secured, but Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Kevin- Prince Boateng will both have to be careful, as a booking for either of them will ensure they miss the final game of the group stages.

Possible line ups:

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic, Luis, Mikel, Matic, Schurrle, Salah, Hazard, Remy

Shalke 04: Fahrmann, Neustader, Santana, Howedes, Uchida, Fuchs, Kirchoff, Boateng, Hoger, Choupo-Moting, Huntelaar.

Despite a good chance of rotational changes in the Chelsea team, and what promises to be a hard fought affair against an accomplished Schalke side, we tip the Blues to still run out winners, in what promises to be an epic Champions League clash.

Notwithstanding, the Blues have to be complacency free, as the Italian Roberto Di Matteo might yet have his revenge.