Jose Mourinho does not believe his Chelsea side are under undue pressure to get a victory when they visit Schalke in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter. Chelsea trail the Bundesliga outfit by three points in Group E, after a shock home loss to Basel on Matchday One. Memories remain fresh of Chelsea’s drop into the Europa League last season, but Mourinho is not panicking.
“I don't think it's yet the time to have the calculator and to be counting the number of points you need to qualify, to be first or second or go to Europa League,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “I think that comes on the fifth fixture. The third and fourth are fixtures you can play just thinking about the game, trying to win and if not trying to get a point, but basically, to play without that pressure of the calculator. We lost the first at home but won the second away so found a balance.”
Chelsea enter the match on a high, following a 4-1 victory over Cardiff City on Saturday. The match saw a welcome first goal for the club for three-time Champions League winner Samuel Eto’o. Despite a difficult start to his Chelsea career, Mourinho said that the 32-year-old’s ability is still very much in evidence.
“He needs time, because in his career he played in Spain and Italy, a little bit in Russia, countries and championships different from the Premier League,” he explained, according to Chelsea’s official website. “Since the first day, he made an impact with the players. Everybody sees the fantastic quality he has in a little bit of time.”
Schalke also received a boost at the weekend, with a late goal earning them a 3-2 win at Braunschweig. After a poor start to the season, Jens Keller has led his side to 10 points from their last four Bundesliga outings. Yet, Saturday’s win came at a cost. Midfielder Marco Hoger suffered a partial cruciate ligament tear that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Schalke will also have to do without star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has been ruled out until the New Year after suffering a major setback on his return from a knee injury last week. The pair joins fellow first-team regulars Jefferson Farfan and Kyriakos Papadopoulos on the sidelines. Schalke should at least have Kevin-Prince Boateng, Jermaine Jones and Timo Hildebrand back available and Keller is refusing make excuses in advance.
"In spite of all the injuries we don't intend to go on about our bad luck or wallow in self-pity," he said, according to Schalke’s official website. "We have to accept the situation as it is. We've achieved some good results recently, after all, even though we've missed several key players through injury. Everyone who plays will give his best because they worked hard last season for the privilege of locking horns with the best teams in Europe."
D: Uchida, Santana, Howedes, Aogo
M: Neustadter, Goretzka
Clemens, Meyer, Draxler
D: Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand
M: Ramires, Lampard
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Prediction: Schalke’s injury problems are severe, with key players missing from defense, midfield and attack. The young players that came in did well at the weekend, but may find it tough going against the experienced European campaigners of Chelsea. While they remain a work in progress under Mourinho, Chelsea should have enough quality on the break to get a narrow win and take command of the group.
Schalke 1-2 Chelsea
Where to watch: The Champions League Group E match will kick-off from the Stadion Gelsenkirchen at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 2, with a live stream available via Fox Soccer 2Go.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.