Steaua Bucharest - Chelsea Preview: Romanian champions have lost just five of last 20 European home games
Rafa Benitez's side travel east after winning only four of their last 12 ties on the road in Europe and with a trip to Old Trafford soon after, key players may be rested
By Ryan Benson
Only Yossi Benayoun (ankle) and Oriol Romeu (knee) are expected to miss out through injury, but John Terry (knee) may not be risked following a fairly stuttering return from a spell on the sidelines.
Benitez's rotation of his strikers suggests Fernando Torres will come back into the team after Demba Ba's goal-scoring appearance against West Brom at the weekend, while Ashley Cole may be rested, allowing for Ryan Bertrand to come back into the side.
Romanian champions Steaua come into the tie with almost a full squad to choose from as Laurentiu Reghecampf looks to continue his side's impressive run in the competition.
Daniel Georgievski (fibula) remains out for the hosts but, aside from the Georgian defender, Steaua can call upon a full-strength side.
Brazilian forward Adi Rocha could come back into the side in place of Stefan Nikolic, while Cristian Tanase should retain his role in the starting line-up despite receiving a red card during the win over Gaz Metan at the weekend.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Chelsea and Steaua have never faced each other before in a competitive match.
- The Romanians finished top of their Europa League group, above Stuttgart, FC Copenhagen and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Molde.
From their last 12 away matches in the Europa and Champions League, The Blues have three wins.
Liverpool were the last side to face the Romanian side, leaving Bucharest with a 1-1 draw in December 2010.
Reghecampf's (pictured right) side have lost only four of their previous 20 home matches in Europe.
Chelsea's group of players includes 19 foreign players, while Steaua have just five.
The average age of Steaua's first-team squad is 24.1, compared to 27 for Chelsea.
Chelsea's two Europa League goals so far this season have been scored in the final 15 minutes of ties.
Steaua have scored eight times in the last 15 minutes of European matches this season, 42 per cent of their overall output.
- Chelsea are 6/1 to beat Steaua 1-0 with Coral.
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Top 3 Predictions
Steaua Bucureşti 0-2 Chelsea FC
- 21 %
Steaua Bucureşti 0-3 Chelsea FC
- 12.48 %
Steaua Bucureşti 1-2 Chelsea FC
- 12.35 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||11 Dec 2013||Chelsea FC 1 - Steaua Bucureşti 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||1 Oct 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 0 - Chelsea FC 4|
|Europa League (EL)||14 Mar 2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Steaua Bucureşti 1|
|Europa League (EL)||7 Mar 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 1 - Chelsea FC 0|
|11 Dec 2013||Chelsea FC 1 - Steaua Bucureşti 0||UCL|
|26 Nov 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 0 - FC Schalke 04 0||UCL|
|6 Nov 2013||Basel 1 - Steaua Bucureşti 1||UCL|
|22 Oct 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 1 - Basel 1||UCL|
|1 Oct 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 0 - Chelsea FC 4||UCL|
|12||Ciprian Anton Tatarusanu||Goalkeeper|
|-||Vlad Iulian Chiricheş||Defender|
|5||Mihai Doru Pintilii||Midfielder|
|7||Alexandru Mihăiţă Chipciu||Midfielder|
|77||Adrian Popa I||Midfielder|
|-||Raul Andrei Rusescu||Striker|
|-||Razvan Marian Stanca||Goalkeeper|
|8||Lucian Ionuţ Filip||Defender|
|-||Gabriel Cristian Iancu||Midfielder|
|-||Leandro Ângelo Martins||Striker|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
|Vlad Iulian Chiricheş|
If Steaua are to progress past the European champions then one would think their defence will have to be at the top of their game, and if that is to happen Chiriches will likely have a say in the matter. The defender, 23, has been linked with both Milan clubs and Chelsea in recent months, with suitors supposedly impressed with his positioning and ability on the ball. This tie represents his greatest opportunity to impress yet.
The last time Moses was used from the start in the Premier League was back on January 2, but in other competitions he has been a part of the XI more regularly. Steaua will represent tricky opposition in their own stadium, but Moses' ability on the ball and pace could prove invaluable on the break and when trying to unlock what at times will likely be a packed defence.
At home, the Romanian side will be a worthy opponent for Rafa Benitez's faltering side and the crowd will certainly makes themselves known. However, a narrow Chelsea win would be the most likely bet, due to the wealth of superior attacking talent at the Spaniard's disposal.