Chelsea's perfect October clouded over quickly before being pushed into the abyss emphatically at St. James' Park by Newcastle.
After fighting their way back into control in the Champions League, following that shock opening loss to FC Basel, Chelsea will be loath to give out another abject performance, like the one in the English Premier League on Saturday, and with it lose all the forward momentum when Schalke visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The Blues were quite impressive in Germany in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, easing past Schalke 3-0 to go level on points with their opponents on six points after three matches. Basel are third in the group with four points, while Steaua Bucharest have pick up just one.
Mourinho is wary of Schalke's away threat, which the Chelsea manager believes is more potent than when they play at home. "Not just in the Bundesliga but in European competitions [Schalke] have very good results away -- which means they feel much more comfortable playing away than at home," the Portuguese said. "So that's a point and a clear point with statistics. The other situation is that they are a very physical team, which is not our case."
Schalke will probably be reasonably satisfied with a point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with the other two games against Basel and Steaua Bucharest, but Mourinho is preparing his side for both an offensive and defensive-minded Schalke side.
"I don't know what they want from the group phase -- if they are going to try everything to finish first, or if they are going to try to finish second and progress in the Champions League," Mourinho added. "I don't know if they come here to win the game clearly or if they come here just to get a point and be very defensive and try to qualify with that point plus the other two matches they have. So we have to be ready for both things, but for sure they are a difficult opponent and the result, 3-0 in Germany, means nothing."
Schalke manager Jens Keller stressed on the importance of not conceding the opening goal against Chelsea. "It's not only difficult for German teams, it's difficult for any team," Keller said. "The main thing is that we don't want to concede an early goal. We have to concentrate. Obviously if we concede an early goal Chelsea can sit back and wait for us to come -- so that's what we've got to try and avoid."
Team News: Fernando Torres, looking like he was finding his form, is a big miss for Chelsea with the Spanish striker ruled out for at least a week with what Mourinho said was a "muscular injury." Ryan Bertrand is also out after picking up a knock in training along with long-term injury victim Marco Van Ginkel.
Mourinho is bound to make some changes to his side against Schalke after admitting he made "11 mistakes" to his starting XI following that disappointing 2-0 defeat to Newcastle.
For Schalke, Jefferson Farfan (Achilles), Chinedu Obasi (shin), Marco Hoger and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (both knee ligament) are sidelined, but Kyriakos Papadopoulos has travelled with the squad after missing a year with a knee ligament injury.
Key men: Chelsea: With Fernando Torres out injured, the onus for goals will fall on Samuel Eto'o and the Cameroonian will want to make sure he does not face Mourinho's wrath with a forgettable performance.
Schalke: Kevin-Prince Boateng is one of the star players for the German side, and against a big side like Chelsea, Keller will rely on the likes of the former AC Milan player for inspiration.
Where to watch
The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start with live coverage on Ten Sports. Update: Click HERE for live updates on Chelsea v Schalke
Expected lineups: Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Willian, Oscar, Schurrle; Eto'o.
Schalke: Hildebrand; Uchida, Howedes, Matip, Fuchs; Neustadter, Jones, Boateng, Meyer, Draxler; Szalai.
Prediction: 2-1 to Chelsea