The midway point in the Champions League group stage approaches with Chelsea in mid-Germany. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton get ready for Matchday Three…
For the first time since 19 May 2012 we return to play in unser pokal in what we might, after the historic win on German soil, reasonably call unser Land. The steel and mining town of Gelsenkirchen may not be the most fragrant rose in Rhine-Westphalia, but it is where Chelsea aim to deliver the kick up the Ruhr that leads to success in Group E.
A surprise home defeat by Basel on Matchday One was followed by emphatic victory in Bucharest. This evening's trip to Schalke will be mirrored in two weeks with the return at Stamford Bridge. By then the shape of the group may have become clearer either way.
This is the most intense period of the season with so far, with title favourites Manchester City visiting on Sunday, a trip across town 48 hours later in the Capital One Cup, then Newcastle away. All crammed in before the second of our heads-to-head with the Bundesliga side on Wednesday 6 November.
The Blues do not have a great record in Germany - Stuttgart 2004 and the 2012 Champions League triumph aside. Yet Jose Mourinho's side are in form and brimming with confidence now that 11 goals in three consecutive wins have secured second spot domestically and in the Champions League group.
Cardiff on Saturday was the second successive match changed by Mourinho's radical tactical switch (neither deemed worthy of proper analysis by the British media). The manager's switch to three at the back and his side's immediate response is less newsworthy than a Chelsea fan taking a 'selfie' with Mourinho.
Surprising, too, that David Marshall's deliberate handball outside the box, denying a possible goalscoring opportunity, was overlooked in favour of Samuel Eto'o's intervention when the goalkeeper dropped the ball for Chelsea's equaliser from Eden Hazard.
The Belgian's second - his fourth of the campaign - was the latest of three wrathful strikes that have scudded under the keeper this season. Leading scorer Oscar, who appears to see the game like one of the characters from The Matrix, takes a more elusive South American route to goal.
Samuel Eto'o became the first striker to hit the net in the league for Chelsea this campaign.
Schalke are riding high in Europe but off the pace domestically. Julian Draxler's brilliant strike at Basel (pictured below) meant two wins, six points and no goals conceded for the Germans who lead Group E by three points.
Teams level on points in the Champions League are separated by head-to-head results first, so the next two results in Gelsenkirchen and west London could have a say in the final standings.
Yet in the Bundesliga Jens Keller's side lie fifth, eight points shy of Leverkusen in third. Their main problem lies in defence. They have the fourth worst record for conceding and a goal difference of -2, the feeblest in the top half and already 17 inferior to that of leaders Bayern.
The evidence was plain to see again on Saturday at struggling Eintracht Braunschweig. The Bundesliga bottom-feeders actually led twice, capitalising both times on poor efforts from Schalke's rearguard to thwart the danger.
Braunschweig's fatal weakness in that area eventually saw them succumb 3-2 to a last-minute winner. Keller will have been concerned by the loss of Marco Hoger to anterior cruciate ligament damage during that match. The influential central midfielder has been ruled out for remainder of the season.
Chelsea and Schalke will hope Steaua take points off Basel over the next two matches. The Swiss have won their last five away games in all competitions but were stumbled 1-0 at home to Schalke in their last time Champions League outing.
Other Group E fixture
Tue 7.45pm - Steaua Bucharest v Basel
|Champions League Group E table|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
- You can listen to commentary of the game live wherever you may be on Chelsea TV or on this website from 7.45pm on Tuesday.
A draw would not be a bad result for the current Group E leaders, who are without several key players. Jens Keller has already warned his side will show 'a different face' to the usual one. Two 18-year-old talents, Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, scored in their unconvincing 3-2 win at bottom-placed Braunschweig and may remain involved tonight.
Schalke's string of injuries includes experienced players such as goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, deep-lying midfield playmaker Marco Hoger, defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones, winger Jefferson Farfán and main striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, as well as central defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos and forward Chinedu Obasi.
Summer signing from Milan, former Spurs player Kevin-Prince Boateng, is making a last-gasp effort to make the squad. He was performing well for the Germans before injury.
Who Boateng might come up against is perhaps less certain after David Luiz's part in Cardiff's goal at the weekend and several moments that followed. Gary Cahill starred in England's recent qualifiers and may be handed a start in Germany. Ashley Cole did not travel; Ryan Bertrand was a more than capable replacement at left-back against Cardiff.
Mourinho may want an instant recall for the urgency and strength of Andre Schurrle on his home soil, and the wide forward did score against Schalke for Mainz and Bayer Leverkusen in his Bundesliga days.
Samuel Eto'o's first goal for the Blues may not be enough to guarantee another start ahead of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. Schalke's sometimes ponderous defence struggled to handle Braunschweig's big target man Orhan Ademi on Saturday. That may tip the balance towards the more physical (and rested) Senegalese who impressed in the leading role at Norwich.
Chelsea's attacking midfield trio is always difficult to call and play with one or all three positions anchored, depending on the threat posed by the opposition, especially full-backs. For Schalke, Uchida Atsuto on the right is not so much the pushed-on type as is left-back Dennis Aogo, who sometimes switches flanks.
The wingers ahead of them tend to stay wide, with Christian Clemens Farfan's likely replacement on the right. Wunderkind Julian Draxler enjoys a virtually free role, supported by the roving central midfield pair of whom Roman Neustadter is the more defensive.
Mourinho may feel he can opt for a fluid three, the aim being to make at least two of the positions interchangeable to increase unease and effort for the opposition. He will hope for more of the fast footwork and finishing that flummoxed Cardiff on Saturday.
Schalke's central defenders rarely look comfortable when attacked, whether it is from a long ball launched forward or one-touch play on the edge of the box. Behind them, it could be a nervous night for Ralf Fahrmann, who will make his first start at this level in place of the seasoned Hildebrand.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This is Chelsea's second ever competitive meeting with Schalke - the first under Jose Mourinho - but the Blues won at their ground, the Veltins-Arena, when it was the AufSchalke Arena and a neutral venue.
The Champions League away leg against Beşiktaş was played there in December 2003 as a result of security concerns in Istanbul. Having weathered a barrage of toilet rolls thrown by Turkish fans, the Blues hit late goals to record a 2-0 victory. Claudio Ranieri's side would go on to reach the semi-finals that season.
The Blues' only win away to a Bundesliga side, 1-0 in Stuttgart, came in that same campaign.
Didier Drogba had a night to forget when the Blues were last in the Ruhr in November 2007. Mourinho had left the club a few months earlier following a 0-0 home draw with Rosenborg, so it was Avram Grant and Steve Clarke's task to shepherd the team out of a tricky group.
The Blues enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages but lacked a little incisiveness and on the occasion when chances were created the finishing touch was lacking. In the opening minutes a panicky clearance by Mladen Krstajic fell straight to Michael Essien, who set up Drogba. Manuel Neuer, the Bayern goalie sent the wrong way from the spot in the 2012 Champions League final, this time guessed right and tipped the ball wide.
Mesut Ozil (later signed by Mourinho at Real) and then Heiko Westermann, both from outside the area, drew sharp saves from Petr Cech as Schalke rallied. The Czech keeper needed treatment after a scramble from a corner, Juliano Belletti clearing off the line to preserve his clean sheet, and was eventually replaced by Carlo Cudicini.
A wonderful weaving run from Joe Cole ended with Drogba one-on-one with Neuer, but the German rose to the challenge again. The second half was heavy weather for the visitors and Belletti was sacrificed for John Mikel Obi, Essien switching to right-back.
Chelsea appeared content to hold on to the ball rather than press for a winner, and when Drogba had one last chance to break the deadlock against the run of play he shot straight at Neuer.
It might have been worse for the Londoners as Schalke hit the woodwork twice through Rafinha and Peter Lovenkrands.
A game that glowed occasionally but never produced fireworks ended in stalemate, leaving Chelsea needing one more win to reach the knockout phase. The Blues progressed to set up the first all-English Champions League final in May 2008, losing to Manchester United in a penalty shoot-out.
Of course our most recent match on German soil made all the heartache worthwhile: it was the 2012 Champions League triumph in Munich.
24 October 2007 Champions League group stage
Chelsea's biggest away win in the Champions League
5-0: v Galatasaray, 20 Oct 1999, first group stage.
Schalke's biggest home win in the Champions League
3-0 three times: most recently v Steaua Bucharest, 18 Sep 2013, group stage.
Chelsea last played Schalke: 2,177
Schälke beat an English team at home: 4,375
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,076
Liverpool won the league: 8,571
The Blues have topped our group in seven of our last 10 Champions League campaigns. Last season was the first time we failed to progress to the knockout stage.
Chelsea have won nine and lost seven of our last 23 away games in the Champions League.
The Blues are hoping for a first win in Germany in the Champions League group stage. We have lost three and drawn one of our previous four at this stage.
|Chelsea's away record against German teams|
|1965/66||TSV Munich 1860||D 2-2||Fairs Cup quarter-final|
|1999/00||Hertha Berlin||L 1-2||Champions League group stage|
|2003/04||VfB Stuttgart||W 1-0||Champions League round of 16|
|2004/05||Bayern Munich||L 2-3||Champions League quarter-final|
|2006/07||Werder Bremen||L 0-1||Champions League group stage|
|2007/08||Schalke||D 0-0||Champions League group stage|
|2011/12||Bayer Leverkusen||L 1-2||Champions League group stage|
|2011/12||Bayern Munich||D 1-1*||Champions League final|
Chelsea's last 10 years in Europe
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners
2012/13 - Europa League - winners, having transferred from the Champions League group stage
|Last six results|
|Sep 21||Fulham (h)||W 2-0|
|Sep 24||Swindon (Capital One Cup a)||W 2-0|
|Sat 28||Tottenham (a)||D 1-1|
|Oct 1||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League a)||W 4-0|
|Oct 6||Norwich (a)||W 3-1|
|Oct 19||Cardiff (h)||W 4-1|
Champions League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 4
An away defeat: 1
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sun 27 Oct||Manchester City home||4pm|
|Tue 29 Oct||Arsenal (Capital One Cup) away||7.45pm|
|Sat 2 Nov||Newcastle away||12.45pm|
If selected, Fernando Torres will make his 100th start in a Blue shirt tonight.
A belated happy birthday to Henrique Hilario, who celebrated his 38th birthday yesterday (Monday).
7 German league titles, last in 1958
5 German Cups, last in 2011
1 UEFA Cup in 1997
1 German Super Cup in 2011
Schalke's Veltins-Arena has a capacity of 61,973. Their crowd for Matchday 1 against Steaua was 49,358.
Last 10 league seasons
2003/04 - 7th
2004/05 - 2nd
2005/06 - 4th
2006/07 - 2nd
2007/08 - 3rd
2008/09 - 8th
2009/10 - 2nd
2010/11 - 14th
2011/12 - 3rd
2012/13 - 4th
Schalke's last two Champions League campaigns have seen them win their group
Schalke have conceded 19 goals in their first nine Bundesliga fixtures.
Schalke's 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in September was their biggest home defeat in 32 years.
|Schalke's home games against English teams in Europe|
|1958/59||Wolves||W 2-1||European Cup first round second leg|
|1969/70||Man City||W 1-0||Cup Winners' Cup semi-final first leg|
|2001/02||Arsenal||W 3-1||Champions League group stage|
|2007/08||Chelsea||D 0-0||Champions League group stage|
|2008/09||Man City||L 0-2||UEFA Cup group stage|
|2010/11||Man Utd||L 0-2||Champions League semi-final first leg|
|2012/13||Arsenal||D 2-2||Champions League Group stage|
2003/04 - UEFA Cup second round (having qualified as Intertoto Cup winners)
Ten-year European record
|Champions League results|
|Aug 21||PAOK (Play-off h)||D 1-1|
|Aug 27||PAOK (Play-off a)||W 3-2|
|Sep 18||Steaua Bucharest (h)||W 3-0|
|Oct 1||Basel (a)||W 1-0|
European scorers (8): Draxler 3, Szalai 2, Boateng 1, Farfan 1, Uchida 1.
|Last six domestic results|
|Sep 14||Mainz (a)||W 1-0|
|Sep 21||Bayern Munich (h)||L 0-4|
|Sep 25||Darmstadt (Cup a)||W 3-1|
|Sep 28||Hoffenheim (a)||D 3-3|
|Oct 5||Augsburg (h)||W 4-1|
|Oct 19||Eintracht Braunschweig (a)||W 3-2|
|Bundesliga table (top)|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Viktor Kassai, his two assistant referees and two additional assistant referees are all from Hungary. His only previous Chelsea match was our November 2011 1-2 defeat in Germany by Bayer Leverkusen.
There are no suspensions.
Europa League bookings list
Players receive a one match suspension for collecting three and five yellow cards.
Schalke (4): Hoger 2, Aogo 1, Farfan 1.
Chelsea (3): Cole 1, Lampard 1, Van Ginkel 1.