Chelsea FC vs Schalke 04 preview - Mourinho wants Hazard to be a great

Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by PA

Chelsea FC vs Schalke 04 preview - Mourinho wants Hazard to be a great

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has called on Eden Hazard to prove his talent as one of the greatest players of his generation on the eve of the Blues' Champions League Group G opener with Schalke.

The Portuguese boss expects the Belgian playmaker, signed for a reported B£32million from Lille in 2012, to agree a new contract despite having three years to run on his existing deal, as a reward for his ever-increasing influence at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho was at times critical of Hazard last season, perhaps because he felt the forward was capable of so much more.

"His talent allows him to think about going from a top player to become one of the greats of his generation," said Mourinho. "We are very proud that he thinks Chelsea is the perfect environment for him to have that evolution.

"That's why he wants to commit to us and we want to commit to him for the future too. It will be a question of time, but it will end with a new contract."

If Hazard's individual aspirations are lofty, so too are Mourinho's, with the possibility he could become the first manager to lift the European Cup with three clubs.

He denied the quest to follow his 2004 win with Porto and 2010 success with Inter Milan is an "obsession".

"To win with three clubs is unique," Mourinho said. "But it's far from being an obsession and it's not something that I think about a lot.

"Even if I don't do it, how many top managers in the world have only one or even not a single one?

"The greatest in our country (Sir Alex Ferguson), he won it twice. Do I want to try to win it again? Of course. But in this moment I only think about 'don't play Europa League'.

"We have a championship of six matches and three opponents (in Group G) and we have to do everything to qualify."

Chelsea twice beat Schalke 3-0 last season en route to the Champions League semi-finals and have begun the Premier League season in scintillating style, with four wins from four games.

"We are far from perfection," added Mourinho, who has a fully-fit squad after Didier Drogba shrugged off an ankle knock.

"We did well (last season). I know that it's difficult to do better, but we feel we've got the conditions to try to do better. We've got a better team, a better group."

Petr Cech has been displaced as first-choice goalkeeper by Thibaut Courtois, but specific competitions have not been designated for the goalkeepers.

"Don't be surprised if (Cech) plays a Champions League game or a Premier League game, or if Courtois plays a Capital One Cup game," Mourinho said. "Petr is more than ready to play every game. He will play a lot, that's for sure."

Schalke lost 4-1 to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga last weekend and have a host of injury problems.

Mourinho is cautious nonetheless, after his side lost their opening home match to Basle last term.

He said: "I don't see a relation between the fact they lost the last match. Probably it makes them stronger. They will discuss the mistakes they made. For sure they will be a better team and a difficult opponent."

Schalke boss Jens Keller faces a defensive crisis for the Group G opener with World Cup-winning Germany defender and captain Benedikt Howedes joining a lengthy list of absentees.

Howedes did not travel to London due to a hip problem, giving Keller further cause for concern against a Chelsea side he believes is stronger than the Blues side of last term.

"Of course it's very difficult if you lose your captain," said Keller, who revealed Jan Kirchhoff could return from injury. "Central defence for us is also a very difficult situation.

"We'll just have to put four players into the back four. We've still got a bit of time to think about what our solutions are and what options we have.

"I don't know how long he'll be missing, but he is a very important player for us. He's very confident now, having won the World Cup."

Keller, who believes Chelsea will go far in this season's competition, added: "We've learnt that mistakes get punished. We learned that home and away last season.

"They're a top team and now with the new acquisitions they're even more of a top team.

"I think that Chelsea will definitely have a say in this competition.

"They're a very, very good team. They showed that last season and this season they'll be way up there."

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