Chelsea - Steaua Bucharest Preview: Blues eye home comforts in bid to book quarter-final spot
Last year's Champions League victors must overturn a 1-0 deficit to progress, but will be confident of success after going unbeaten Stamford Bridge in Europe this term
By Tim Poole
Fernando Torres should lead the line with Demba Ba cup-tied, while John Terry should return at the heart of Chelsea's defence.
John Obi Mikel and Eden Hazard made distinct impacts as second-half substitutes against Sir Alex Ferguson's charges, so are likely to start from the off on Thursday.
|Bet:||Returns:||Atl. Madrid £20.00||Draw £33.00||Chelsea £40.00|
|Bet:||Returns:||Atl. Madrid £19.10||Draw £32.50||Chelsea £42.00|
|Bet:||Returns:||Atl. Madrid £20.00||Draw £32.50||Chelsea £40.00|
Meanwhile, Steaua coach Laurentiu Reghecampf may be tempted to stick with the same starting line-up that beat Chelsea in the first leg in Romania.
However, Reghecampf may have the opportunity to tinker if Daniel Georgievski can recover in time from a fibula injury.
Elsewhere, forward Stefan Nikolic could also return from a knee problem, while Brazilian striker Adi Rocha is waiting in the wings to deputise.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Steaua's first-leg victory over Chelsea represented the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides.
- Frank Lampard has registered the most Chelsea appearances in Uefa competitions, having played over 100 times in Europe for the Blues. He is 7/4 to score anytime with Coral.
- In four European home games this season, Chelsea are yet to taste defeat with two wins and two draws.
- The Blues' top scorer in European competition this term is Oscar. The Brazilian has scored six times in total, with his last goal coming against Sparta Prague in the last-32 first leg.
- As well as topping their Europa League group this season, Steaua Bucharest are 12 points clear at the top of their domestic league.
- Steaua have also won their last five games in all competitions.
- The Romanian side overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ajax in the last 32, eventually clinching the tie 4-2 on penalties.
- Striker Raul Rusescu (pictured right) scored the winner against Chelsea six days ago and has notched 18 league goals this season, also striking four times in the Europa League.
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Top 3 Predictions
Chelsea FC 3-0 Steaua Bucureşti
- 24.55 %
Chelsea FC 2-0 Steaua Bucureşti
- 17.94 %
Chelsea FC 3-1 Steaua Bucureşti
- 12.43 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Dec 11, 2013||Chelsea FC 1 - Steaua Bucureşti 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 1, 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 0 - Chelsea FC 4|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 14, 2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Steaua Bucureşti 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 7, 2013||Steaua Bucureşti 1 - Chelsea FC 0|
|Apr 13, 2014||Swansea 0 - Chelsea FC 1||EPL|
|Apr 8, 2014||Chelsea FC 2 - Paris Saint-Germain 0||UCL|
|Apr 5, 2014||Chelsea FC 3 - Stoke 0||EPL|
|Apr 2, 2014||Paris Saint-Germain 3 - Chelsea FC 1||UCL|
|Mar 29, 2014||Crystal Palace 1 - Chelsea FC 0||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
|12||Ciprian Anton Tatarusanu||Goalkeeper|
|6||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|
|39||Leandro Ângelo Martins||Striker|
The Blues' biggest threat this season by a mile, the Spaniard simply must start if Benitez is serious about Chelsea's Europa League credentials. Too many times this term, the interim coach's superstitious devotion to squad rotation has cost the Blues dearly and with 17 goals so far this campaign, the 24-year-old is virtually guaranteed to deliver for his side.
|Raul Andrei Rusescu|
For those of us who know little about Steaua, the first leg taught us that they are no pushovers. It also taught us that Rusescu in particular is not short of attacking ability. The 24-year-old may have only scored from the spot, but his pinpoint accuracy was only bettered by his thunderous power. With 18 league goals this term, the Romanian is clearly a threat, but with four goals in the Europa League as well, the striker is enjoying troubling Europe's best.
The Blues will be pushed by the Romanian league leaders but, after their weekend rejuvenation at Old Trafford, Benitez's side should be able to navigate this particular banana skin and progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed