Chelsea travel to the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirken, for their clash against Schalke 04.
The Blues enter the Matchday 3 fixture on the back of a resounding 4-1 win over Cardiff City and it is Chelsea’s first match in Germany since the epic penalty shootout victory in the final of this competition, in 2012.
Chelsea’s only injury concern is Ashley Cole, who didn’t travel. The left back was substituted against Norwich City and missed two England matches during the international break, as well as the win over Cardiff City.
As usual, Ryan Bertrand will deputise. Bertrand famously made his Champions League debut on that famous night in Munich, playing on the left of midfield. It was a gamble by then-manager Roberto di Matteo, but Jose Mourinho will have no qualms about selecting Bertrand in his preferred role. The defender has developed well and although he lacks Cole’s experience, he is a big talent.
Samuel Eto’o scored his first goal for the club on the weekend, but may lose out to Fernando Torres, given the short turnaround and Torres’s excellent form prior to the international break. With a huge fixture against Manchester City looming this weekend, both strikers will be itching to get themselves on the scoresheet and prove themselves to be the first choice at the head of the attack.
Oscar will likely start after coming off the bench on the weekend, so one of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata or Willian will miss out, most probably Willian, who has had a slow period of adjustment since arriving in the summer.
Mata’s much publicised work-rate (or lack thereof) seems to have improved sufficiently enough for Mourinho, who has started the Spaniard in the past three matches.
Behind them, Frank Lampard may be rested with John Obi Mikel, the man for the big occasion, a chance of stepping in. The only other selection question is at centre half, where John Terry is expected to start, as he has for all of the league matches this season. David Luiz, at fault for the Cardiff City goal on the weekend, may be replaced by Gary Cahill, but expect Luiz to start against Manchester City.
The Blues bounced back from their shock defeat by FC Basel on Matchday 1 to record a resounding victory against Steaua Bucharest on Matchday 2.
Schalke 04 have won both their matches thus far and sit atop the group on 6 points. A Chelsea victory and a win for FC Basel over Steaua would make three teams on 6 points after the first set of fixtures, opening a Pandora’s Box of permutations for the second-half of the group stage.
Schalke 04 will welcome the fit-again Kevin-Prince Boateng into their starting lineup. The Ghanian has come a long way since he smashed Michael Ballack’s angle in an FA Cup Final a few years ago and is a crucial part of the German side’s line-up.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jefferson Farfan are expected to be missing for the home side.