December could be a pivotal month for Chelsea’s trophy ambitions, with nine testing encounters in all competitions.
But it could be somewhat easier for the Blues if they won against Basel in the Champions League tonight.
Three points from their trip to Switzerland will see Europa League champions Chelsea through to the knockout stage, and allow manager Jose Mourinho the luxury of resting his key players for the final group stage match next month.
And so The Special One has called on his charges to face their upcoming fixtures with bravery, starting tonight against Basel.
"This is a period I like, a period where the squad can play a role, not just the team," Mourinho said, looking forward to his task.
"It's a period where I think only the brave can survive because it's so hard. We go into the Christmas period and the accumulation of matches is so high. We don't do it as a normal thing … we do it as a special group with a special mentality, enjoying the situation and forgetting we don't have a Christmas like the Spanish, Italian and German players. But we have the pleasure of playing a period that's only for the brave.
"I always enjoyed this part of the year when I was in England, and I missed it when I was in Spain and Italy. We need a special mentality to cope with that situation. Nine matches, and one of them is the match against Steaua. Finish the job against Basel and we would ensure that, instead of having nine competitive matches, we only have eight. That would be important. That's our motivation, to kill the situation in the group stage and give us a bit of space in December."
Chelsea were shocked at home by Basel in their first game of the Champions League this season, but the Swiss team have struggled in Europe ever since.
However, they have returned to form, and top the Swiss league where they are unbeaten since mid-August.
Even so, the Blues are heavily favoured to get the job done, with Mourinho adamant that Chelsea’s hosts will be the one’s sweating with their competition survival in the balance.
"If somebody tomorrow has to feel the pressure, it's not us," Mourinho said.
"It's Basel because they are in a limited situation to qualify for the next round. This is a difficult game, but this Chelsea is better than the Chelsea that played at Stamford Bridge. Hopefully we can continue the good run we've had in the Champions League and finish the job."