Jose Mourinho, knowing a win will guarantee Chelsea passage to the Champions League knock-out stages as a seeded team, has selected his strongest XI for tonight’s match against Schalke 04 in Germany. Chelsea will field an XI unchanged from the comfortable 2-0 win against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday which extended their unbeaten start to the season to 18 games.
Mourinho would like to settle the issue tonight because Chelsea’s final group game, at home to Sporting, comes in the middle of a busy period of matches. Saturday’s match at Sunderland begins a period of six matches in 18 days with further Premier League fixtures against Spurs, Newcastle and Hull, and, in the Capital One Cup, a trip to Derby County.
The Portuguese said: “We have so many match in December, if we can avoid a crucial match and that pressure it would be very good for us.”
A scoring draw, of 2-2 or higher, will also send Chelsea through as Schalke drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge - on the head-to-heads Chelsea would thus finish above Schalke on away goals. Any other result and Chelsea’s progress would depend on the result of the Sporting-Maribor game in Lisbon.
Schalke (4-1-4-1): Fahrmann; Uchida, Felipe Santana, Neustadter, Howedes; Kirchhoff; Choupo-Moting, Hoger, Boateng, Aogo; Huntelaar.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa.
Referee: J Eriksson (Sweden)
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