PUSHING ON

With the UEFA Super Cup match now in the past, Chelsea's European attention turns to the Champions League group stage which is just two matches away in our forthcoming fixture schedule.

Playing last year's winners in Prague on Friday was a good measure of how this young, developing team is shaping up for the campaign against clubs from across the continent, and although we ultimately lost on penalties, experience was gained in open play that should stand the players in good stead for meetings ahead.

Not that Basel and Steaua Bucharest are likely to pack big surprises given that we played them less than six months ago.

'I think we've got an okay group,' said Gary Cahill as he reviewed the Champions League draw.

'There are no easy teams in any of the groups but we've got an okay group and we're hoping to do well. We need to get out of the group and qualify; we know what we have to do, they're all tough games but we've got the squad to get out of the group and hopefully we'll do that.'

Making up the four teams are Schalke who we faced in the group stage in 2007. The side from Gelsenkirchen came through a qualifier this time - beating Greek side PAOK Salonika 3-2 away having drawn 1-1 in Germany.

They won their first domestic game of the season this weekend, beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 at home. Former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng made his debut having signed from AC Milan. It is early days in the Bundesliga but Schalke are 13th out of 18 teams with four points from four games.

'I am really looking forward to playing against Schalke, and I have a really good friend there in Adam Szalai,' reported Andre Schurrle. The player mentioned, a Hungary international, played with Schurrle at Mainz and moved in the summer to his new club where he is one of the main strikers.

Schurrle joined his current team mates in believing Chelsea gave a good account of ourselves against Bayern Munich.

'It was very intense but we defended well and had many counter-attacks but in the end it was bad luck. We had the chances in the second half to win the match.

'We knew that Bayern Munich would play, play and play and we knew that we had a low block, and we did well in the defence and were very aggressive.'

Schurrle Chelsea


Cahill added: 'You saw the attitudes of all the players who were trying to work hard for one another, so I'm sure we can take those positives from the game.

'The squad's definitely stronger. We've got a fantastic manager in place and everybody's pushing in the right direction. I'd love to have seen how the game would have gone if it had stayed 11 against 11.

'We've given Bayern Munich a tough test. No doubt they're going to be one of the favourites again, but I'm sure if you ask their players they'll say they had a tough time as well.'