Who: Chelsea FC vs. FC Schalke 04
What: UEFA Champions League Group E (Matchday 4, second leg)
Where: Stamford Bridge, West London, England, United Kingdom
When: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel London forecast
Time: 19:45 GMT/2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go (USA); Sky Go UK, Sky Sports 2/HD, Sky Sports Red Button, Premier Sports, NOW TV powered by Sky, British EuroSport 1 (UK)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC Sirius 94 (Internet 94)
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -300, FC Schalke +850, Draw +400
Total: Over 2½ -150, Under 2½ +115
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.33, FC Schalke 9.50, Draw 5.00
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.67, Under 2½ 2.15
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 1/3, FC Schalke 17/2, Draw 4/1
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 2/3, Under 2½ 23/20
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1 -190, FC Schalke +1 +150
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1½ Even, FC Schalke +1½ -130
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
Odds To Win Champions League: Chelsea 14/1, FC Schalke 100/1
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
What a difference a week makes.
Last Tuesday, Chelsea was basking in the royal blue glow of a perfect October (6-0, 18-3 goals), which included wins in the UEFA Champions League (Steaua Bucharest, FC Schalke 04), the Capital One Cup (Arsenal) and the English Premier League (Norwich City, Cardiff City, Manchester City), as the club looked as it was finally hitting its groove.
Now, the Blues find themselves a bit humbled after an embarrassing 2-0 loss against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday and having to face a Bundesliga side on Wednesday in FC Schalke in almost the same position as them in their Champions League group.
The good thing for Chelsea and its fans here is that the match is at Stamford Bridge.
When these two met a fortnight ago in Germany, the Blues dominated Schalke as Fernando Torres scored twice and Eden Hazard once in an easy 3-0 win in Gelsenkirchen, which slightly put Chelsea (2-0-1, 6 points) ahead of Schalke (2-0-1, 6 points) in Group E because of goal differential (Blues +6, Schalke +1).
With all of that in mind, the significance of this game is that should there be a winner, that team will most likely win the group and advance on in the tournament with the loser potentially having to fight it out with third-place FC Basel 1893 (1-1-1, 4 points) to move on.
After being served a major dose of humiliation by the Magpies over the weekend in a poor display of football for a club seemingly riding so high heading in, Chelsea also had to deal with the wrath of manager Jose Mourinho, who was none too pleased with his team as he made evident according to this story in The Guardian.
"I told my players nothing," Mourinho said. “After the match it's time to cool down. I never say anything to them immediately. I hope there'll be a reaction. I'm angry and frustrated with the team but I'm part of the team and I'll look at myself as well."
So, with Darth Mourinho so unhappy with his starting XI from the Newcastle game, will he make wholesale changes to his lineup for this Schalke showdown?
Despite the brash talk, don’t count on it, celery breath. This is a man who also threatened to go with an Under-21 team at Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last Tuesday in protest of a quick scheduling turnaround after having just played a Sunday fixture with Manchester City. In short, The Special One wanted his team to play on Wednesday and no Under-21s got a sniff of The Fatherland.
Hey, you can't always get what you want, mister boss man. But we know you already know that, you cheeky bastard you. We see what you’re doing here. So continue to get down with your bad Portuguese self if you so please.
Of particular interest to Chelsea and its fans here will be the inclusion or exclusion of striker Fernando Torres, who has been absolutely wonderful over the last two years in international play but equally deplorable in Premier League play. It’s just that simple.
And despite his proclaimed recent “return to form” by many, Torres still has much to prove and may be an important factor to the Blues securing all three points in this one against Schalke. But Mourinho is unpredictable enough that he may start Samuel Eto’o or possibly even Andre Schurrle up top in the Blues' 4-2-3-1 formation. One never knows.
Three guys who should be in Chelsea’s starting XI on Wednesday are Gary Cahill, John Obi Mikel and Schurrle. David Luiz and Frank Lampard were both less than appealing against the Toon and Juan Mata will probably make way in the attacking midfield after starting over the weekend on the Geordie Shore.
Bundesliga upstart Schalke boasts a strong midfield that includes Julian Draxler, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Roman Neustadter, and with striker Adam Szalai up top, manager Jens Keller and his boys could present some real problems on offense for the host.
The last time these two teams met at this stage of the tournament was back in 2007, when Chelsea shut out Schalke 2-0 at home and then played to a 0-0 draw two weeks later on the return leg at Veltins-Arena.
So, with a number of injuries—including a key one to star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (knee)—and coming off an underwhelming performance at home, Schalke and goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand will have its work cut out for it in West London. And playing an angry Blues squad here will certainly not help Die Konigsblauen’s cause.
With its potential survival in the Champions League thrust into peril with a loss here, expect Chelsea to find a way to win this one behind Holy Goalie Petr Cech, Hazard and a defensive back four that has been absolutely brilliant so far this season, and earn its 100th victory in an UEFA competition to pretty much capture the group and secure a spot in the knockout phase.
So, nothing big, brother.
After Schalke, the next game up on the Blues schedule is a Saturday date (Nov. 9) against West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge (NBCSN, 10 am ET/7 am PT), with its next Champions League game scheduled for Nov. 26 in Switzerland against Basel at St. Jakob-Park where the Europa League champions will undoubtedly be out for revenge against the hosts who upset Chelsea, 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the group’s opener.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2 FC Schalke 1
BETS: Chelsea -300, Chelsea -1 -190
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