THE GERMANS ARE COMING!

By Rowan Farnham-Long
Oct 23rd, 2007

It’s good fun this winning lark. After struggling to find any sort of form a few weeks ago, we have now recorded four wins and four clean sheets out of our last five games following the effectual 2-0 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday . We’ll be looking to extend our run on Wednesday night when Schalke 04, competing in the Champions League for the third time in their history, makes their way to Stamford Bridge.

After our win at Valencia we sit top of the Group B table, with the Spanish side and Schalke just a point behind. After all the recent upheaval another win would perhaps silence the doubters. We will have to try and do so without an injured trio however, with Ashley Cole and John Terry out following recent injuries, and Michael Ballack – yes, you guessed it – still on the sidelines. Wayne Bridge, however could find himself back in the starting line-up for the first time this season, as his suspension for getting sent-off in a reserve game at the beginning of October only counts for domestic games. We have no suspended players at all in fact, not even the perpetually banned Mikel!

Schalke have had an unspectacular start to the season, although they sit in 5th place in the Bundesliga with four wins, five draws and a single defeat. Their most recent result was a draw on Saturday to FC Hansa Rostock which followed a 0-2 loss against Karlsruher. Schalke have no players suspended for the game, however they could be missing defender Christian Pander, midfielders Levan Kobiashvili and Mesut Özil and striker Halil Altintop, all through injury.

Chelsea and Schalke have never met before in any competition but against German sides on English soil we are unbeaten. Schalke, on the other hand, have never won on these shores. A foregone conclusion in terms of the result then? One word: Rosenborg. Let’s hope there is no complacency with this supposedly new style of attacking football Avram Grant is treating us to.

Schalke’s Champions League season has been as inconsistent as their Bundesliga campaign, albeit in a smaller dose. One defeat and one win so far plus a trip to the Bridge looming hasn’t got the fans dreaming of an underdog success story, however a recent survey has discovered that Schalke apparently have the best fans in Germany, with atmosphere one of the categories the supporters gained top marks in. They’re used to a lot of noise then, so if you took advantage of the reduced ticket prices and you’re going along, show them what we are all about. Bring your flags, bring your scarves and bring your songs, and make it a memorable Champions League night in West London.

Prediction: More joy for the Blues with another win and another clean sheet. Chelsea to win 2-0 to make us all forget about the Rosenborg debacle Stamford Bridge witnessed last month. Let’s go mad and say that maybe even Shevchenko will get one!

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