Fernando Torres, the scorer of the first two goals as Schalke were defeated 3-0 on their home soil, has praised the defensive side of Chelsea’s performance on the night and in recent weeks.
The Spaniard’s early header was added to by his breakaway goal in the second half before Eden Hazard completed the win in the Ruhr with another counter-attack. Before those two goals after the interval, Chelsea’s resilience was tested as the Bundesliga side enjoyed plenty of possession.
‘Sometimes when you play against a team that gets the ball, you have to run a lot and it is important to have a balance in defence and defensively we didn’t have any problems,’ Torres said.
‘Maybe there were one or two penetrating passes that found the opposition players, but we didn’t have too many problems and I am really happy for the defenders and for Petr.
‘We are basing our football the last few games on being strong in defence and exploding into the spaces we have, playing counter attack. It is a way that Chelsea didn’t used to play but we have players who can play that way as well.
‘In the second half we knew Basel needed to risk a little bit more because a defeat at home was not a good result for them and we were going to have some counter-attack situations, and it was like this at the end, we had two or three counter-attacks and we could score two more goals and close the game. We were playing with the confidence that the early goal gave us.’
Two Champions League wins since defeat at home by Basel have put Chelsea back to the top of our group and that defeat by the Swiss has been followed by six wins and a draw in all competitions.
‘We have learned a lot of good lessons this season as a group,’ said Torres.
‘When those kind of results like the Basel one happen at the beginning of the season the games are not crucial and we have time to fix it like we have now. When those kind of games happen at the end of the season you lose competitions and you lose titles and it is not good.
‘This is a young squad with a new manager, a new style, new players and it is not easy to settle quickly but we are on the way, we are improving, we are building up and we are learning as a group. Hopefully we learned the lesson and it is not happening again.
‘The manager knows how to motivate the group and some of the games when we have talked with him at half-time, we have improved a lot in the second half.
‘He talks with me like he talks with everyone else, and I know he likes people who work. All of us know if we work hard we will have the reward.’
Torres’s performance in recent games has drawn plenty of positive comment and good form will be essential as the team approaches a busy period.
‘Hopefully it is the start of many games in a row scoring goals because we have a lot of important games coming now, starting with Man City and Arsenal – games that are important for getting to the top of the Premier League and winning the Capital One Cup.
‘I am ready to play if I have to play, ready to help from outside if I have to be on the bench. We have a squad and we need everyone together to reach the targets.’