Following Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke come Steaua. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton assess the contest with our latest opponents…
Chelsea need a win this evening to make sure of top spot in Group E and a marginally better pot of Champions League Round of 16 opponents when the draw is made on Monday 16 December at 11am. Already confirmed as seeds are Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and the two Madrid sides.
One point would be sufficient for the 2012 champions should Basel fail to win at Schalke. Defeat would definitely mean a runners-up slot for the Blues as a draw in Germany would place Basel on the same points as Chelsea but ahead on head-to-head results.
This is the match in a very busy December that Jose Mourinho wanted his players to put to bed by gaining a point at least in Basel. That was not to be after they registered just one shot on target and Mohamed Salah struck late on, but the Portuguese manager is still likely to reshuffle his team cards tonight.
Visitors Steaua Bucharest only managed a 0-0 stalemate in their last Champions League match at home to Schalke, thereby matching Spartak Moscow's tournament record of 22 games on the spin without a win between 2000 and 2006.
Steaua needed all three points against the Germans to maintain hopes of any form of European football in the spring and now are doomed to bottom slot. The Romanians have drawn six of their last seven games in all competitions, slipping to third in Liga 1, and have nothing to play for in this competition except pride and experience.
Saturday brings a testy trip to Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ, five points behind the defending champions, and coach Laurențiu Reghecampf may decide his priorities lie in that direction. The players were allowed to bring their partners to London as a treat, so Harrod's might want to stock up on Chelsea kits.
The Romanians' last defeat in any competition was against Chelsea on 1 October on matchday two (pictured below). On the road in Europe, though, they have lost 0-3 to Schalke and drawn 1-1 in Basel.
The Blues are smarting not just from the Swiss miss last time out but also from the club's first league defeat to Stoke for over 38 years on Saturday. Once again inefficiency in front of goal when dominating the game led to problems later on.
Unfortunately the opposition are having no such difficulties hitting the mark. In the last three league games Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke have managed just seven shots on target but every single one has resulted in a goal.
The unusually high ratio of those goals conceded after set-plays - four - also suggests there is work to be done in identifying and clearing danger in the keeper's area.
The only English team still to qualify are Arsenal. The only scenario in which the Gunners would be turfed out of the Champions League tonight is a victory for hosts Napoli by a margin of more than two goals, plus a win for Dortmund at Marseille.
The last team to win the Champions League despite losing twice in the group stage (as Chelsea have done) were AC Milan in 2006/07. In tonight's other Group E fixture, Schalke need a win and Basel at least a draw to join the Pensioners in the knockout phase.
Other Group E fixture
Tue 7.45pm - Schalke v Basel
|Champions League Group E table|
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WE HAVE HISTORY
This is only our second ever competitive meeting against Steaua at Stamford Bridge. The previous occasion was in last season's Europa League Round of 16, our second tie in the competition en route to success in the final.
Ten minutes later the visitors threw progress into doubt by scoring after a corner, through Vlad Chiriches (now of Tottenham) just before the break. That away goal meant Chelsea now needed at least two more to go through.
Steaua began to give away fouls in dangerous areas and from one those Mata picked out John Terry, who headed in off the post.
The Spaniard also had a key role in Chelsea's third, cutting in a curling a purposeful pass towards Eden Hazard. The Belgian, though, stepped over the ball, allowing it to reach the lurking Fernando Torres.
The centre-forward created an opening and fired low into the goal. He should have had a second before the game ended when Hazard was fouled in the area but his spot-kick scudded off the crossbar. Never the less the 3-1 victory was enough to secure a quarter-final place.
Our other meetings
7 March 2013 Europa League Round of 16 first leg
Steaua Bucharest ….1 Chelsea…..……..……0
Rusescu 34 pen
1 October 2013 Champions League group stage
Steaua Bucharest ….0 Chelsea…..……..……4
Ramires 19, 55
Georgievski own goal 44
Chelsea's biggest home win in the Champions League
05/12/2012 - Chelsea 6-1 Nordsjaelland - Group stage
Steaua's biggest away in the European Cup/Champions League
07/09/1988 - Sparta Prague 1-5 Steaua - First round, first leg
Chelsea last played Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge: 272
Steaua lost: 71
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,126
Liverpool won the league: 8,621