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|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Following the jarring defeat at Stoke and in the middle of a congested schedule across several competitions, Jose Mourinho has promised several personnel changes for tonight's encounter with Steaua Bucharest.
The Blues comfortably won 4-0 away to the Romanians, who will be without their experienced skipper Alexandru Bourceanu because of suspension. The influential defensive midfielder has played every minute up to now and even with him present Steaua were unable to press Chelsea's attacking midfielders and often found themselves stretched to breaking point at the back.
Bourceanu's central midfield partner in that match, Lucian Filip, suffered a broken leg a few weeks ago and will also miss out.
With qualification for the first knockout round of the Champions League already secured, Mourinho can rest two or three regular starters ahead of Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace and the Capital One Cup trip to Sunderland four days later.
Any changes will not reduce the quality of the side by much - just ask Arsene Wenger, whose team were beaten 2-0 on home soil in the Capital One Cup by a supposed 'second string' from west London.
Definitely returning is left-back Ashley Cole, prevented from playing since 2 November, first by a rib injury then the form of Cesar Azpilicueta, who may revert to his more familiar post at right-back. Branislav Ivanovic, the only outfield to have started every Premier League and Champions League game to date, could sit this one out.
Frank Lampard and Petr Cech have also been involved in all 20 matches of the two competitions, with John Terry and Ramires absent for just one European outing and Eden Hazard and Oscar not far behind.
Oscar and his compatriot David Luiz, absent for the same period as Cole, have returned to training and could well figure against the Liga 1 leaders who go into the game knowing they will finish last in Group E.
Andre Schurrle is a doubt as he was taken off at the Britannia Stadium at the weekend with a knock. Chelsea's pace and quality in attack was difficult for Steaua to handle back in October and the German played a key role.
Head coach Laurențiu Reghecampf bemoaned the naivety of his side, who conceded two goals in each half. Their right-back Daniel Georgievski in particular endured a torrid evening against Schurrle, capping his display with an own goal before being subbed. He has recently made way for Andrei Prepeliţă, usually a midfielder.
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
Chelsea have conceded seven shots on target in our last three games against Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke - all have been goals
The Blues have topped our group in eight of our 11 Champions League campaigns. In 1999/2000 there were two group stages where we were runners-up in the second one. Last season was the first time we failed to progress to the knockout stage.
The Blues have a 71 per cent win record in home group Champions League games.
We have lost only three of our last 38 home Champions League matches (including 27 victories) since 2006.
Only Bayern Munich have conceded fewer than Chelsea's three in five group matches this term.
|Chelsea's home record against Romanian teams|
|2008/09||CFR Cluj||W 2-1||Champions League group stage|
|2012/13||Steaua Bucharest||W 3-1||Europa League round of 16 first leg|
Chelsea's last 10 years in Europe
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
2012/13 - Europa League - winners, having transferred from the Champions League group stage
|Last six results|
|Nov 9||West Brom (h)||D 2-2|
|Nov 23||West Ham (a)||W 3-0|
|Nov 26||Basel (Champions League a)||L 0-1|
|Dec 1||Southampton (h)||W 3-1|
|Dec 4||Sunderland (a)||W 4-3|
|Dec 7||Stoke (a)||L 2-3|
European games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 5
A home defeat: 1
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sat 14 Dec||Crystal Palace home||3.00pm|
|Tue 17 Dec||Sunderland (Capital One Cup) away||7.45pm|
|Mon 23 Dec||Arsenal away||8.00pm|
If selected, Branislav Ivanovic will make his 50th European appearance for Chelsea.
24 Romanian league titles, last in 2013
22 Romanian Cups, last in 2011
1 European Cup in 1986
1 European Super Cup in 1986
6 Romanian Super Cups, last in 2013
Steaua Bucharest were the first East European team to win the European Cup (in 1986)
Steaua have spent all their history in the Romanian top-flight.
Last ten league seasons
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
2012/13 - 1st
Steaua won the Romanian League last season for the first time in seven years, winning 24 of their 34 matches with 79 points, a record 16 clear of runner-up Pandurii Targu Jiu.
Steaua have not won for 22 games in the Champions League proper, a run that has lasted seven years. Their failure to beat Schalke on matchday five equalled the longest Champions League run without a win set by Spartak Moscow between 2000 and 2006.
Steaua have lost only two of their 29 games this season in all competitions, winning 16. They are undefeated in 12 games in all competitions since the Chelsea defeat on 1 October. Their other reverse was at Schalke two weeks earlier.
|Steaua's away games against English teams in Europe|
|1997/98||Aston Villa||L 0-1||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 1-0||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|
|2012/13||Chelsea||L 1-3||Europa League last 16 first leg (agg 2-3)|
Ten-year European record
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 round of 16
Champions League results Jul 16
FK Vardar (2nd qual h)
W 3-0 Jul 23
FK Vardar (2nd qual a)
W 2-1 Jul 30
Dinamo Tbilisi (3rd qual a)
W 2-0 Aug 6
Dinamo Tbilisi (3rd qual h)
D 1-1 Aug 21
Legia Warsaw (Play off h)
D 1-1 Aug 27
Legia Warsaw (Play off a) won on away goals
D 2-2 Group E
L 0-3 Oct 10
L 0-4 Oct 22
D 1-1 Nov 6
D 1-1 Nov 26
European scorers (13): Piovaccari 4, Iancu 2, Bourceanu 1, Latovlevici 1, Pintilii 1, Stanciu 1, Tanase 1, Tatu 1, own goal 1
|Last six domestic results|
|Oct 30||Poli Timisoara (Cup h)||W 2-0|
|Nov 2||Corona Brasov (a)||D 1-1|
|Nov 23||Pandurii Targu Jiu (a)||D 1-1|
|Dec 1||Petrolul Ploiesti (h)||D 1-1|
|Dec 5||Otelul Galati (Cup h)||W 2-0|
|Dec 8||Otelul Galati (a)||D 1-1|
|Liga 1 top six|
|4||Pandurii Targu Jiu||17||+17||31|
|6||Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt||17||+4||27|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Gianluca Rocchi, his two assistants and two additional assistants are from Italy. He was in charge at the Bridge when we beat Valencia 3-0 in 2011 and Rubin Kazan were seen off 3-1 in last season's Europa League quarter-final.
Steaua captain Alexandru Bourceanu is suspended after reaching three yellow cards.
Europa League bookings list:
Players receive a one-match suspension for collecting three and five yellow cards
Steaua (11): Bourceanu 3, Piovaccari 2, Szukala 2, Cristea 1, Gardos 1, Georgievski 1, Popa 1.
Chelsea (6): Cahill 1, Cole 1, Lampard 1, Mikel 1, Ramires 1, Van