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Chelsea's Champions League rivals

Know Chelsea's rivals in Champions League Group E

Chelsea's Champions League rivals

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New manager Jose Mourinho prepares to lead Chelsea into this season's Champions League. Shikharr Chandra looks at what the Europa League winners will face in the group stages.

 Shikharr Chandra
 ANALYSIS | EUROPE
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Schalke 04
Schalke 04


Performance in last year's tournament: Eliminated in Round of 16.

How they qualified this year: Finished 4th in Bundesliga, had to go through a play-off

The Manager

Jens Keller was promoted from Schalke's U-17 coach to the first team coach last season and after guiding his side to the Champions League this season, the former defender was handed a 2-year extension.

Keller has previously managed VfB Stuttgart for a very short stint and even though his Champions League experience might be limited to just one season, Schalke's run to the round of 16 did not go unnoticed as they overcame the likes of Arsenal and Montepellier to top their group. 

Formation and Tactics

4-2-3-1

Like most European sides, Schalke have also adopted the 4-2-3-1 formation. New signing Kevin-Prince Boateng will feature in the number 10 role right behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar whereas Julian Draxler and Jefferson Farfan will support from the wings with both equally good at cutting in from their respective sides. Felipe Santana and Joel Matip make a strong central defense with both Marco Hoger and Jermaine Jones providing good cover for the defense in central midfield.

Expectations:

Schalke are expected to finish in the top two of Group E. With the attacking talents of Huntelaar, Draxler and Boateng, the Germans should not have a big problem against the lowly Steaua or Basel.

Schalke 04
  Man to Watch - Kevin Prince Boateng

Schalke have loads of attacking talent within their ranks with the likes of Julian Draxler and Klass Jan Huntelaar already boasting high-profiles on the big stage but it's the presence of new signing Kevin-Prince Boateng that might benefit Schalke's campaign a lot more this season.

The experienced midfielder moved from AC Milan during the summer window and is not new to the pressure and expectations of the Champions League. With Draxler and Huntelaar alongside him, the trio could give Schalke the potency in attack they need for the tournament.  


Basel
FC Basel


Performance in last year's tournament: Lost in the final playoff round and did not qualify.

How they qualified this year: Won the Super League and defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final qualifying round

The Manager

A former defender for the Swiss national side who featured in the EURO 2004, Murat Yakin is pretty new to the managerial world. The 38-year old guided Basel to the Europa League semi-finals last season where his side lost to eventual winners Chelsea. Yakin was appointed as Basel's head coach on October 2012 after short spells with Thun and Luzern.

Formation and Tactics

4-3-3

Murat Yakin's side is expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation. Valentin Stocker and in-form Mohamed Salah will look to provide support from the wings with Marcelo Diaz, Serey Die and Mohamed El-Nenny marshaling the midfield. Park Joo-Ho, Fabian Schar, Gaston Sauro and Phillip Degen will make up the defense. The impressive pace of Salah and Park will be useful on the counter-attacks as well while tracking back. The experienced Marco Streller will be leading the Swiss side's attack and will look to build on his impressive goal scoring run against much tougher teams than he has usually come across. 

Expectations:


Basel could be the dark horses of Group E. Semi-finalists of last season's Europa League, the Swiss side gave Chelsea a tough time last season and their impressive performance in against Tottenham earned them many plaudits. Basel would look to take advantage of any slip ups by Schalke or Chelsea and qualification to the next round could be massive for the Swiss champions.

Basel
  Man to Watch - Marco Streller

With a staggering 21 goals last season, Marco Streller is most certainly the man to watch in this Basel side. The Swiss forward who plays for his boyhood club has scored more than 70 goals in 160 games for Basel and even though his record in Europe has not been great, the former Stuttgart forward could prove to be a handful for many defenders in this group.


Steaua
Steaua Bucuresti

Performance in last year's tournament: Did not feature.

How they qualified this year: Won the league and won the play-off round against Legia Warsaw.

The Manager

Laurențiu Reghecampf a former right-back has not had the most illustrious managerial career but that all seems to be changing now as Steaua get ready to face the likes of Chelsea and Schalke. Reghecampf was sacked from Snagov and Craiova even though he saved the two from relegation. He was offered a job by Concordia Chiajna with the sole purpose of avoiding relegation. The Romanian did that and later Steaua called him up. Reghecampf guided them to the Romanian League title after seven long years.

Formation and Tactics

4-2-3-1

Manager Laurențiu Reghecampf will look to line up his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders in captain Bourceanu and Pintilii. Steaua like to play a strong pressing game and mostly attack from their flanks with the two wingers playing a major role. The Romanian side loves to keep possesion and play short, quick passing game in order to exahust their opponents.

Expectations:


Steaua won't have very high expectations from this season's Champions League. The qualification to the next round looks a bit out of reach with Chelsea and Schalke the favourites to go through but anything above the bottom will be considered a huge success for the Romanian side.
Steaua
  Man to Watch - Adrian Popa

The Romanian right winger could very well be the key to Steaua's success this season with the departure of top scorer Rusescu to Sevilla. Steaua have seen a lot of players leave this season but Popa's decent goal scoring run and his pace from the right which is equally effective when tracking back could prove to be useful when the Romanians come up against the likes of Chelsea and Schalke who are excellent in the wide areas of the pitch.

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