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Steaua v Chelsea


Chelsea must overturn a 0-1 deficit to put the European champions' name into tomorrow's draw. How can that be achieved?

Key battles
This is an important marker for the status of Romanian football. Steaua's first-leg victory, earned with a penalty, was well-received in a country starved of European success for a quarter of a century.

Rafael Benitez has stated his and Chelsea's key target this season as being qualification for next season's Champions League and the Blues supporters may indicate a similar priority should tonight's crowd fall short of the usual numbers. Ramires and Victor Moses were rested for the away leg.

Steaua's manager Laurenţiu Reghecampf said yesterday that his side will aim to annihilate Chelsea's players of 'extraordinary talent' and aim to win again. He knows their strength lie in team work and organisation rather than individual brilliance.

Their standout performer from the win in Bucharest, roaming left-back Iasmin Latovlevici (pictured below), may be ruled out through injury, removing one of their main offensive threats.

Steaua Latovlevici

With a place in the quarter-finals the prize, he may also be worried his players might freeze on foreign soil as they did in Amsterdam, where they lost 0-2 to Ajax. Stamford Bridge is expected to be suitably chilly in any case.

The Steaua coach is also expecting difficulties on set-plays, where the Londoners are stronger than Ajax and his own team, but suggested he might resist the temptation to play his three tallest defenders - Lukasz Szukala, Vlad Chiriches (who both featured last week) and Florin Gardos.

For his part, Benitez will be hoping the delivery into the area will be better than in the first leg and that the Blues show more patience in possession, especially in the final third. Carrying over some of the energy and pace of the second-half performance at Old Trafford into this match would also be handy.

The Romanians have not kept a clean sheet away from home since the qualifying round of this tournament, but they have an in-form goalscorer in Raul Rusescu. Chelsea's sole option as striker in this competition is Fernando Torres, with three goals to his name in UEFA matches this season and the Blues' attacking midfield has weighed in too, Oscar scoring an impressive six.

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The Blues are unbeaten in 10 home European games (eight wins, two draws) since losing to Manchester United in the 2010/11 Champions League quarter-finals.

The Blues are looking to become the only English club to win all three major UEFA competitions having won the Champions League last season and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1971 and 1998. Three clubs that have achieved it are Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich.

This is the 28th successive midweek that our players have either played for the club or been away on international duty. The last clear week all the players were at Cobham training was the last week of August leading up to the Super Cup against Atlético Madrid.

Chelsea's home record against Romanian teams
2008/09 CFR Cluj W 2-1 Champions League group stage

Chelsea's last ten years in Europe

2002/03 - UEFA Cup - first round
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners

Last six results
Feb 21 Sparta Prague (Europa League h) D 1-1
Feb 24 Manchester City (a) L 0-2
Feb 27 Middlesbrough (FA Cup 5 a) W 2-0
Mar 2 West Brom (h) W 1-0
Mar 7 Steaua Bucharest (Europa League a) L 0-1
Mar 10 Manchester United (FA Cup a) D 2-2

Scorers Mata 17, Torres 15 (1 pen), Lampard 13 (5 pens), E Hazard 11 (2 pens), Oscar 9 (1 pen), Ramires 8, Cahill 6, Ivanovic 6, Moses 6, Ba 4, D Luiz 4 (2 pens), Bertrand 2, Sturridge 2, Terry 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Romeu 1 (pen), own goals 3. Total 111.


Chelsea's next three games
Sun 17 Mar West Ham home 4pm
Sun 31 Mar Southampton away 4pm
Mon 1 Apr Man United (FA Cup QF replay) home 12.30pm


Frank Lampard needs one goal to reach 200 goals for Chelsea and three to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling.

If selected, John Mikel Obi will make his 50th European appearance for the Blues. He will join six players who have reached that milestone for Chelsea: John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Joe Cole.

Chelsea's next European goal will be our 300th in UEFA competition. This does not include the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup that was not under the jurisdiction of UEFA.

Congratulations to Marko Marin who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday (Wednesday).


Major honours
23 Romanian league titles, last in 2006
21 Romanian Cups, last in 2011
1 European Cup in 1986
1 European Super Cup in 1986
5 Romanian Super Cups, last in 2006.

Steaua have spent their whole 56-year history in the Romanian top-flight.

Last 10 league seasons

2002/03 - 2nd
2003/04 - 2nd
2004/05 - 1st
2005/06 - 1st
2006/07 - 2nd
2007/08 - 2nd
2008/09 - 6th
2009/10 - 4th
2010/11 - 5th
2011/12 - 3rd


Steaua Bucharest were the first east European team to win the European Cup (in 1986).

Steaua have won five of their 15 matches against English opposition but have yet to win away from home, where they have lost their last four.

Steaua's away games against English teams in Europe
1997/98 Aston Villa L 0-2 UEFA Cup third round first leg (agg 2-3)
1999/00 West Ham D 0-0 UEFA Cup second round first leg (agg 2-0)
2003/04 Southampton D 1-1 UEFA Cup first round second leg (agg 2-1)
2003/04 Liverpool L 0-1 UEFA Cup second round first leg (agg 1-2)
2005/06 Middlesbrough L 2-4 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg (agg 3-4)
2007/08 Arsenal L 1-2 Champions League group stage
2010/11 Liverpool L 1-4 Europa League group stage


Ten-year European record
2002/03 - Did not qualify
2003/04 - UEFA Cup second round
2004/05 - UEFA Cup round of 16
2005/06 - UEFA Cup semi-finals having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2006/07 - UEFA Cup round of 32 having transferred from the Champions League group stage
2007/08 - Champions League group stage
2008/09 - Champions League group stage
2009/10 - Europa League group stage
2010/11 - Europa League group stage
2011/12 - Europa League round of 32


2012/13 Europa League results
Third qualifying round
Aug 2 Spartak Trnava (h) L 0-1
Aug 9 Spartak Trnava (a) W 3-0
Aug 23 Ekranas (a) W 2-0
Aug 30 Ekranas (h) W 3-0
Group E
Sep 20 VfB Stuttgart (a) D 2-2
Oct 4 FC Copenhagen (h) W 1-0
Oct 25 Molde (h) W 2-0
Nov 8 Molde (a) W 2-1
Nov 22 VfB Stuttgart (h) L 1-5
Dec 6 FC Copenhagen (a) D 1-1
Round of 32
Feb 14 Ajax (a) L 0-2
Feb 21 Ajax (h) (won 4-2 on pens) W 2-0aet
Round of 16
Mar 7 Chelsea (h) W 1-0


Europa League proper scorers (excluding qualifying games):
Rusescu 4 (2 pens), Chipciu 2, Chiricheş 2, Latovlevici 2, Costea 1, own goal 1. Total 12.

Last six domestic results
Nov 26 Braşov (a) L 1-3
Nov 30 Concordia Chiajna (a) W 6-0
Dec 10 Astra Ploieşti (h) W 2-0
Feb 25 Universitatea Cluj (a) W 1-0
Mar 2 Gaz Metan Mediaş (h) W 3-0
Mar 10 Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ (a) W 4-3




Liga 1 top seven
Pld Gd Pts
1 Steaua Bucharest 22 +36 56
2 Astra Ploieşti 22 +24 44
3 Pandurii Târgu Jiu 22 +6 41
4 Dinamo Bucharest 22 +11 39
5 Petrolul Ploieşti 22 +12 38
6 Vaslui 22 +11 37
7 CFR Cluj 22 +12 34


Referee Stéphane Lannoy, his two assistant referees and two additional assistant referees, are from France. Lannoy was in charge of our Champions League group stage match against Bayer Leverkusen at Stamford Bridge last season.

There are no suspensions.

Demba Ba is cup-tied having already played for Newcastle in this season's competition.

Europa League bookings list
Players receive a one-match suspension for collecting three and five yellow cards
Steaua (15): Bourceanu 3 (already served his suspension), Chipciu 2, Latovlevici 2, Prepeliţă 2, Chiricheş 1, Filip 1, Gardoş 1, Nikolić 1, Pintilii 1, Popa 1
Chelsea (10): D Luiz 3 (already served his suspension), Bertrand 2, Ramires 2, Cahill 1, Cole 1, Mikel 1

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