Schalke 04 0-3 Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned
Chelsea put the disappointment of their opening-game defeat to FC Basel completely behind them as they beat Group E leaders Schalke 04 3-0 in Germany. The Blues were efficient from the start, and aside from a spell of pressure at the end of the first half, they dominated much of the match.
Mourinho made a few changes to his starting XI, with David Luiz dropped after his howler against Cardiff. Fernando Torres started ahead of Samuel Eto'o, which paid off handsomely as the striker bagged a brace, before Eden Hazard got Chelsea's third in the dying minutes of the game.
An impressive performance and the right result is exactly what the Blues needed as they head into an intense run of fixtures. Here are six things we learned from Chelsea's 3-0 away win.
All statistics are taken from Who Scored.
Chelsea Are Back in the Driving Seat
Much was made of Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Basel in the opening game of this year's Champions League campaign. A crisis was created, suggestions of sackings were whispered and some lost their heads completely.
Two games later, the Blues are top of the group, level on points with Schalke with two home games to go. Qualifying top of the group will be crucial to the club's potential route to the final in Lisbon.
Mourinho Is as Tacitically Sharp as Ever
Jose Mourinho did not anoint himself as "The Special One" lightly. His knowledge of and passion for football is obvious, and he is truly a master tactician.
According to Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror, he has said that he likes to end the game with two strikers on the pitch, and his preference for risking one point to gain three paid off twice in successive matches before the meeting with Schalke—when he switched to three at the back against Cardiff and Norwich City.
Against Schalke, he locked the game up at 2-0 by bringing on John Obi Mikel for the attack-minded Andre Schurrle. David Luiz replaced Oscar 10 minutes later. Mourinho looks to be changing Chelsea's style of play by stripping everything back to basics and keeping it simple, and it’s working splendidly so far.
Oscar Needs a Rest
Oscar scored Chelsea's goal of the season against Juventus in this competition last year. He has already scored twice this year and was involved again in Germany, providing the assist for Torres’ second goal.
Despite this involvement, he was not on his best overall form in Germany, and will leave Mourinho with a tough decision to make ahead of Sunday’s match against Manchester City. The 22-year-old has been first choice in the No. 10 role this season, but he will need to be fully fit if he is to be risked against Chelsea's title rivals.
Cesar Azpilicueta Can Be Effective at Left-Back
Azpilicueta had a standout debut season for the Blues, but has found himself marginalised under Mourinho. He started in Germany out of position at left-back and performed admirably, though, making a crucial first-half clearance from Julian Draxler with the score still 1-0.
"Dave" also made four tackles and two clearances, with an overall passing accuracy of 81 percent. He's unlikely to keep Ashley Cole out of the side in the long term, but has proven he is a suitable backup for either full-back.
Torres Still Loves to Score in Europe
Last season, Torres netted nine times across the Champions League and Europa League campaigns. He may have only scored one Premier League goal since December, but looks set to continue his impressive continental form with two goals on his 100th start for Chelsea. He was unlucky to miss out on his hat-trick, but made three tackles to complement his attacking contribution.
The striker seems to have shed the burdens that were obviously weighing him down and is relishing working with Mourinho. It is still too early to get excited, but it certainly looks like Torres could soon be back to his best.
Losing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Could End Schalke's Campaign
Schalke had several good chances to score, particularly towards the end of the first half. However, without Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, they lacked any real threat in the final third.
The Dutchman will be out until Christmas at the earliest, and unless Schalke can find another fearsome finisher within their squad, losing him could spell the end of their Champions League campaign.