UEFA Champions League Preview: Schalke - Steaua Bucharest
USA midfielder Jermaine Jones is missing for the hosts, but the Bundesliga outfit will be confident it can overcome its Romanian challengers in a Group E opener.
Schalke will look to build on back-to-back Bundesliga wins when it hosts Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Wednesday.
After failing to register a victory in its opening three league matches, Schalke has responded strongly, notching wins against Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz. Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has played a big part in transforming the club's fortunes since arriving from Milan on Aug. 30, and he scored the only goal in their 1-0 win at Mainz on Saturday.
The Ghana international is hopeful Schalke can carry its newly found momentum into the group stage of Europe's premier club competition.
"I'm very, very happy that we collected a win today and I hope that it can continue like this," Boateng said after Saturday's win. "We were well organized and rarely afforded Mainz a sight of goal. Now I hope we can maintain our momentum going into the Champions League."
Schalke earned its place in the group stage with a last-gasp 4-3 aggregate victory over Greek outfit PAOK in the playoff round. The second leg came at a cost, though, with USA midfielder Jermaine Jones being sent off and thus earning a one-game suspension that will rule him out of Wednesday's clash.
Jens Keller's side was involved in the Champions League last season but was knocked out in the round of 16 by Galatasaray. The German outfit will look for a strong start in a tough Group E that also includes Europa League winners Chelsea and Basel.
Schalke's best Champions League performance came in 2011 when it reached the semifinals but was knocked out by Manchester United 6-1 on aggregate.
Steaua Bucharest will head into the game brimming with confidence after making an unbeaten start to its league campaign. The club sits in fourth after four wins and a draw from its opening five matches and will be buoyed by their 5-0 demolition of Sageata Navodari on Saturday.
The Romanian champion also secured their entry in the competition from the playoff round, defeating Legia Warsaw on away goals after the two sides were locked at 3-3 over two legs.
This season will be Steaua's first in the Champions League since 2008-09, and it will hope to fare better than it did on that occasion, as it won just one point from six group matches and exited the competition at the first hurdle.
Steaua will face a tough test initially though, with Schalke sure to be confident about extending its run of good form.
Top 3 Predictions
Schalke 04 2-0 Steaua
- 19.81 %
Schalke 04 2-1 Steaua
- 19.27 %
Schalke 04 3-1 Steaua
- 14.11 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 26, 2013||Steaua 0 - Schalke 04 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 18, 2013||Schalke 04 3 - Steaua 0|
|Europa League (EL)||Dec 1, 2011||Schalke 04 2 - Steaua 1|
|Europa League (EL)||Sep 15, 2011||Steaua 0 - Schalke 04 0|
|Mar 8, 2014||Schalke 04 4 - TSG Hoffenheim 0||BUN|
|Mar 1, 2014||Bayern 5 - Schalke 04 1||BUN|
|Feb 26, 2014||Schalke 04 1 - Real Madrid 6||UCL|
|Feb 21, 2014||Schalke 04 0 - Mainz 0||BUN|
|Feb 15, 2014||Leverkusen 1 - Schalke 04 2||BUN|
|17||Jefferson Agustin Farfán||Striker|
|12||Ciprian Anton Tatarusanu||Goalkeeper|
|5||Mihai Doru Pintilii||Midfielder|
|-||Nicolae Claudiu Stanciu||Midfielder|
|77||Adrian Popa I||Midfielder|
|-||Florin Constantin Niţă||Goalkeeper|
|8||Lucian Ionuţ Filip||Defender|
|39||Leandro Ângelo Martins||Striker|