FC Steaua Bucuresti travel to Villarreal CF for their 18th match against Spanish opposition and they know they will have to fare better than their last fixture.
On 16 March, the Romanian side were held 0-0 by Villarreal at home in the UEFA Cup Round of 16, with the first leg having been postponed by a week following heavy snow in Bucharest. Another match that finished goalless stands as Steaua’s most memorable in European competition.
On 7 May 1986 in Seville, Steaua overcame FC Barcelona on penalties following a 0-0 draw after extra time to win the European Champion Clubs' Cup. Despite that success, Spanish sides historically hold the edge over Steaua. Of the previous 16 ties, Steaua have won five, drawn three (including the 1986 final) and lost eight - scoring 15 goals and letting in 29. However, Spanish clubs have won on only two of their previous eight visits to the Romanian capital.
In the 1977/78 UEFA Cup first round, Johan Cruyff was among the scorers as Barcelona won 3-1 in Bucharest on their way to an 8-2 aggregate win. Twenty-one years later at the same stage, Valencia won 4-3 at Steaua and 3-0 at home; Romanian international Adrian Ilie scoring twice for Valencia in the tie.
This tie is Steaua's third against Spanish opposition this season. In the group stage they lost 1-0 at Athletic Club Bilbao, and in the Round of 32 gained revenge for the 1998/99 loss to Valencia by eliminating the holders. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg at the Mestalla, they won the return leg by the same score before prevailing 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out.
Valencia's exit meant Villarreal were denied a rematch of last season's semi-final against their Levante rivals and will instead face their first tie against Romanian opposition in UEFA competition. The home match against Steaua is their 18th European game this season, of which they have lost just one: the second leg of their UEFA Intertoto Cup final with Club Atlético de Madrid, although Villarreal won on penalties.
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