Champions League - Chelsea vs Schalke 04

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:39 pm

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Chelsea will kick off their 2014-15 Champions League campaign against a familiar foe as they
host German side Schalke at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, September 17ᵗʰ





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Matchweek 1 of the new Champions League season sees Chelsea host Schalke at Stamford Bridge in a game the home and away fans alike may well be feeling a touch of déjà vu in; indeed, this same match-up was seen in last season's European campaign, and in the very same stage of the competition. Both sides ultimately progressed into the knockout round at the end of it, and both will as well be looking to do so again this time around, each knowing very well an opening day victory would get them off to the best possible start towards achieving that goal.





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The sides were drawn into Group G alongside Sporting of Portugal and Slovenian outfit Maribor in the August 28th draw in Monaco. The Blues are the clear and undeniable favourites out of the lot, and conventional wisdom would certainly state Maribor could surely end up being the proverbial group whipping-boys, but both Schalke and Sporting will see themselves as well capable of advancing to the Round of 16, and it is certainly not without them to pose some potential threat to top spot favourites Chelsea, all resulting in what could be a pretty exciting next 4 months in this largely passed-over group.
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As mentioned, the two sides were pitted against each other in the group stage of last season's Champions League campaign, the home tie of which the Blues triumphed 3-0 in. Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring for the hosts on just over half and hour, when some lackadaisical dallying-around from Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand and some trademark pressing from the Cameroonian resulted in the latter intercepting the former's goal-kick, sending the ball careening into his own net. The striker then doubled both Chelsea's lead and his own account on the night just under 10 minutes into the second half, before substitute Demba Ba finished off a scruffy chance 7 minutes from time to complete the Blues' triumph.
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Despite many if not most anointing the evening's hosts as runaway group-winners effectively since the moment the draw was made, manager José Mourinho is unsurprisingly, and probably wisely, less fatalistic about things, telling chelseafc.com after his side's 4-2 home win over Swansea at the weekend that neither he nor the Blues will be taking anything for granted:

"First of all, the group is more difficult than people think. The top three Portuguese teams, including Sporting, are very, very strong. Schalke have improved a lot in relation to the last season. I haven’t analysed Maribor yet because they are the last team we play against, but our group is hard.

We also have league fixtures after our first four Champions League games – Man City, Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool - that are like a poisoned gift, so we have difficult weeks ahead of us."
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The home side do, nonetheless, have the benefit of going into this match with a striker in free-scoring form of late since his addition to the squad over the summer. Diego Costa has netted an incredible 7 goals in just 4 Premier League games so far the season, including a hat-trick against Swansea City at the weekend just ahead of Wednesday's clash, and José Mourinho will certainly be hoping the on-fire Spaniard can continue this exceptional domestic form and carry it into Europe, where he finished, last season, joint 3rd highest scorer in the competition with 8 goals to his name playing for ultimate finalists Atlético.
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José Mourinho once again has the benefit of a full squad to pick from - an invaluable commodity at this stage of the season where keeping pace is paramount and so many new competitions are being thrown into the fixture list for the first time. Schalke, conversely, have no such fortune. The Germans are presently ravaged by injuries; centre-halves Jan Kirchhoff, Felipe Santana, and Joël Matip all did not feature at the weekend, forcing manager Jens Keller to field a makeshift defence which ultimately conceded 4 goals away against Borussia Mönchengladbach Saturday, while promising youngster and former Chelsea target Max Meyer was ruled out with the flu. The side are also without right-back Atsuto Uchida, defender Sead Kolašinac, and forward Jefferson Farfán, the former 2 through long-term injuries. Star pair Julian Draxler and Klas-Jan Huntelaar both started on the bench, though did come on for 45 minutes and 27 minutes respectively.
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The match kicks off at 1945 BST



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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:50 pm

I think we'll see Willian start, probably Luis and Mikel/Ramires too.
Courtois/Cech
Azpilicueta Cahill Terry Luis
Ramires Matic
Willian Fabregas Hazard
Remy

That would do the job nicely.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:53 pm

That team should more than get the job done.


The goalkeeper one will be interesting. Stick with Courtois so there can be no question as to the manager's belief, trust and committment in/to him, or go with the experienced — and well in need, and indeed deserving, of minutes when possible — Cech, which could on the flipside instill a slight bit of doubt in T-Bo concerning the earlier point. Tough one.

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:58 pm

It will be interesting. I think either could start.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:59 pm

In any event, I thing Big Pete is a certainty to start against Bolton next midweek.

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:03 pm

Yes, I imagine he will.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:08 pm

In which case, he should be bringing along a good novel to read. Bolton are a shambolic trainwreck at the moment. Have been for months, in fact.

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:10 pm

Laughing


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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:16 pm

But, that's a future discussion for a future thread Laughing

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:16 pm

Schalke sporting director denies club are in crisis ahead of Chelsea Champions League clash:
Chelsea look set to cruise to victory over Schalke in the Champions League after the Bundesliga club's sporting director, Horst Heldt, was forced to deny rumours of a crisis at the Veltins-Arena
http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/510811/Schalke-boss-denies-club-crisis-ahead-of-Chelsea-Champions-League-clash

"There is no disharmony. We've just got to remain calm."

"What you could see was how hard it is for us at the moment to cope with all of the players we are missing."

"We had four players out there who had not played for months. It was clear that we're not in our rhythm yet, and so we deserved this defeat."

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:56 pm

General rule in football - if your club director has to deny you're in crisis, you're more than likely in crisis.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:57 pm

José Mourinho demands Chelsea keep their focus in Europe after blistering domestic start:
José Mourinho has ordered Chelsea to hit the ground running in the Champions League this season, stressing that the Blues' group is not the walk in the park some suggest it is
http://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/399808/Jose-Mourinho-DEMANDS-Chelsea-keep-their-focus-in-Europe-after-blistering-start

"If we slip up against Schalke but finish top of the group like we did last season, no problem for me."

"The point is to be focused."

"The group phase is not easy and normally, not always, to finish first is better than to finish second."

"So first objective is to finish second and after that try to finish first."

"But some big teams go out in group stage year after year and Chelsea did it two years ago so we have to make sure that doesn't happen."

"And to play at home the first match and lose is not the best way to start."

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:01 pm

@Shed wrote:General rule in football - if your club director has to deny you're in crisis, you're more than likely in crisis.


I agree.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:09 pm

Here's to hoping we can take advantage Champions League - Chelsea vs Schalke 04 Sinister-904

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:10 pm

I think we will.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:12 pm

I'm well excited for this game. Can't wait Razz

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:15 pm

I am too, have been for every game this season Proud

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:17 pm

I was slightly nervous ahead of the Everton game, just as I will be for the City one, and the Arsenal one a few weeks after it, but that's all part and parcel of the game we love drinking

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:19 pm

I am nervous before every game, I honestly believe this is our year and we do not have any excesses, unlike last few seasons.

I don't think we'll win the CL but we'll definitely get out of the group stages.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:23 pm

Incidentally, I think it will be our focus on the Premier League that will ultimately kill off any chances we have in Europe.

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Post by Kick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:24 pm

I think so, unless we can mastermind some wins late on.

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Post by Shed on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:27 pm

We'll of course set out to win every game we play, but I think Mourinho's focus will be on the Prem. He knows he's probably got to win one of them this year and will likely see the title as the likeliest of the pair. As the season wears on and fitness and tiredness become more and more of an issue, I think such will be reflected in the team selections.

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Post by rwo power on Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:23 am

@Shed wrote:General rule in football - if your club director has to deny you're in crisis, you're more than likely in crisis.
Schalke are not in a crisis. This is just their normal state. Laughing
(As a matter of fact, Schalke would fit the moniker 'FC Hollywood' much better than Bayern as they are much, much bigger drama queens.)

You know, Schalke's coach Jens Keller took over the side almost two years ago, and there has not been a single day when there were no reports in the media saying he would be fired the next day. It's all business as usual in Gelsenkirchen. :facepalm:

As for what you can expect - I have not the slightest idea, I have to admit. This Saturday, Schalke totally imploded against Borussia M'gladbach and lost 1:4, but just the week before they held Bayern to a 1:1 draw. There is no clue whatsoever which Schalke side will appear in the CL.

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Post by Shed on Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:35 am

Rwo in defending German side shocker Laughing


eco smile

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Post by rwo power on Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:39 am

Naw, it just shows you don't know Schalke if you think they are in crisis when it is actually just their normal state of mind XD

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