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Steaua plot Chelsea's downfall

Published: Tuesday 26 February 2013, 11.00CET
FC Steaua Bucureşti block Chelsea FC's path to completing the set of all three major continental trophies as two former European champions meet in the round of 16.
Steaua plot Chelsea's downfall
Steaua celebrate Vlad Chiricheş's round of 32 goal against Ajax ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 26 February 2013, 11.00CET

Steaua plot Chelsea's downfall

FC Steaua Bucureşti block Chelsea FC's path to completing the set of all three major continental trophies as two former European champions meet in the round of 16.

Having eliminated the final hosts in the round of 32, FC Steaua Bucureşti will look to take another major UEFA Europa League scalp as European champions Chelsea FC head east.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time.

• Steaua's 14 games against English clubs have ended W4 D4 L6 (W4 D2 L1 at home). They have not won in their last five games – home and away – against English clubs, and have never been victorious in England, where they are on a four-game losing streak.

• Steaua's most successful recent European campaign ended in England in dramatic circumstances; 1-0 up from the first leg of their 2005/06 UEFA Cup semi-final tie against Middlesbrough FC, and 3-0 up overall after 24 minutes of the decider, they were then heading through on away goals until Massimo Maccarone struck after 89 minutes at the Riverside Stadium to secure a 4-2 home win – and a 4-3 aggregate success – for Steve McClaren's side.

• Chelsea's only previous encounters with Romanian opposition came in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage, where they drew 0-0 away then won 2-1 at home against CFR 1907 Cluj.

Match background
• Steaua's success against AFC Ajax in the round of 32 was the first knockout tie since the advent of the UEFA Europa League to be decided on penalties, Iasmin Latovlevici scoring the winner in a 4-2 spot-kick success.

• Steaua were the only team in the round of 32 to go through to the last 16 after losing the first leg. It was only the second time in the UEFA Europa League that a side had recovered from a two-goal first-leg deficit to qualify, after Fulham FC's comeback from a 1-3 away reverse to win 4-1 at home against Juventus in the 2009/10 round of 32.

• Steaua have conceded more goals than any of the other UEFA Europa League group stage contenders to have made it this far – 11, the same amount they have scored.

• Chelsea and Levante UD have played fewer UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League games than any other side left in the competition – just ten each. This is the first time either have played in the last 16 of this competition.

• Chelsea could become the first side to win UEFA's two top club competitions in reverse order in successive seasons.

• They could also become only the fourth side to have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions after Juventus, AFC Ajax and FC Bayern München. Chelsea won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1970/71 and 1997/98 and the UEFA Champions League last season.

Team facts
• Steaua's Stefan Nikolić (2006-08) and Chelsea's Branislav Ivanović (2004-06) are both former OFK Beograd players.

• The round of 16 features teams from 11 UEFA member associations; eight nations have a single representative, with England and Russia both taking three teams through and Italy two.

• Chelsea's Juan Mata could make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance – he has scored 12 goals in his previous 49.

• Chelsea's next goal will be their 300th in UEFA competition.

• Thanks to extra time against Ajax, Steaua goalkeeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu and defender Vlad Chiricheş have played more minutes in this season's UEFA Europa League than anyone else in this season's competition – 750 in total.

• Chelsea fielded two notable Romanian players in the past: striker Adrian Mutu (2003-04) and midfielder Dan Petrescu (1995-2000). The first foreign player to register over 100 appearances for the Blues, Petrescu started his career with Steaua – reaching the 1989 European Cup final – and won the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Chelsea, although he was sent off in the final.

• A right-sided midfielder, Laurenţiu Reghecampf was capped once by Romania and played for Steaua from 1996 to 2000, finishing his career in Germany with FC Energie Cottbus, Alemannia Aachen and 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Since taking up coaching in 2009, he has had eight jobs; he has been in charge of FC Snagov three times, FC Universitatea Craiova twice and CF Gloria 1922 Bistriţa and FC Concordia Chiajna once each, taking command at Steaua last summer.

• Rafael Benítez moved into coaching young after injury ended his career as a midfielder, taking charge of youth and reserve teams at Real Madrid CF. He led Valencia CF to two league titles and the 2003/04 UEFA Cup, and then won the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC. He coached FC Internazionale Milano briefly in 2010/11 and replaced Roberto Di Matteo as Chelsea manager in November 2012.

• Benítez's most recent UEFA Europa League experience came in 2009/10, when he led Liverpool to the semi-finals before defeat by eventual winners Club Atlético de Madrid.

• Benítez has been in charge of 132 UEFA club competition games – more than any other coach in this season's round of 16.

Last updated: 04/04/14 13.40CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000358/match=2010074/prematch/background/index.html#steaua+plot+chelseas+downfall

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