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Timişoara target Stuttgart scalp

Published: Tuesday 18 August 2009, 8.50CET
FC Timişoara coach Ovidiu Ioan Sabau wants his players to repeat the heroics that toppled FC Shakhtar Donetsk against a VfB Stuttgart side aiming, in Markus Babbel's words, to "fulfil a dream".
Timişoara target Stuttgart scalp
Timisoara downed UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar in the previous round ©Sportsfile

Tournament statistics


Goals scored2
Attempts on target18
Attempts off target11
Fouls committed79
Yellow cards13
Red cards0
Published: Tuesday 18 August 2009, 8.50CET

Timişoara target Stuttgart scalp

FC Timişoara coach Ovidiu Ioan Sabau wants his players to repeat the heroics that toppled FC Shakhtar Donetsk against a VfB Stuttgart side aiming, in Markus Babbel's words, to "fulfil a dream".

FC Timişoara coach Ovidiu Ioan Sabau has called on his players to reproduce the heroics that toppled UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous round when they take on Bundesliga challengers VfB Stuttgart in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off round tie.


Ovidiu Ioan Sabau, Timişoara coach
We are a small and inexperienced team, but we have our strengths – first of all, our ambition. We will have to fight and to play as we did against Shakhtar and I am appealing to my players' intelligence, to their total commitment and their refusal to give up until the last second of the second leg. We have to be well-organised, and to do what we know, not try something else. Stuttgart are not a perfect team, they have their weaknesses, and it's up to us to exploit these weaknesses. Of course, having so few players at my disposal is not ideal but we don't want to look for excuses.

Markus Babbel, Stuttgart coach
We have the chance to fulfil a dream which we worked so hard for during the past six months. In the second half of last season we caught up with the teams above us to take third . Playing in the group stage would be amazing, but we know how good Timisoara are – they are well-organised and have some very skilful individuals and the fact that they eliminated the UEFA Cup holders speaks for itself. Tomorrow we will not sit back but will attack. It is an advantage to play the second leg at home but it would be a big mistake to rely on that. Timisoara proved against Shakhtar that they can play well away, too.

Key stats

• While Timişoara are newcomers to the competition, Stuttgart will be looking to earn a third tilt at the UEFA Champions League group stage after gaining automatic access in both 2003/04 and 2007/08.

• In their only other appearance, during the inaugural edition of the competition in 1992/93, they failed to reach the group stage under a different format, losing out to first-round opponents Leeds United AFC following a 2-1 play-off loss at Camp Nou.

• Stuttgart's sole previous encounter with a Romanian side ended in victory as they defeated FC Rapid Bucureşti 2-1 during the UEFA Cup group stage in 2005/06. Recent FC Bayern München signing Mario Gómez fired both their goals. Current Stuttgart coach Babbel contested the match as a player, while Timişoara duo Valentin Bădoi and Artavazd Karamyan turned out for Rapid.

• Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger and Timişoara's Bucur were on opposite sides when Germany beat Romania 3-1 in a friendly on 12 September 2007, though they were not on the pitch at the same time.

How they reached the play-offs

• Hosts Timişoara earned themselves a spot in the third qualifying round after finishing second in the Romanian Liga 1 last term, three points behind champions AFC Unirea Urziceni and two ahead of FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti. Their reward was a tough tie against Shakhtar, but after Gheorghe Bucur struck twice in Ukraine to seal a 2-2 draw, Sabău's troops then held on to a 0-0 stalemate at home to progress on away goals.

• Stuttgart ended their own domestic campaign in third spot to book a play-off round ticket, falling five points short of the tally amassed by Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg and three short of Bayern.

Team news

Out: Winston Parks (left knee), Srgian Luchin (adductor)
Doubtful: Alexandru Curtean (adductor), Dare Vršič (ankle)
Suspended: Alexandru Bourceanu
Misses next match if booked: Dan Alexa, Arman Karamyan, Artavazd Karamyan, Lukáš Magera, Stellian Stancu

Out: Khalid Boulahrouz (shoulder), Roberto Hilbert (slipped disc), Martin Lanig (cruciate ligament), Ricardo Osorio (shoulder), Jan Šimák (back), Alexander Stolz (back), Christian Träsch (broken wrist)
Doubtful: none
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: none

Last competitive results

14/08/09 Timişoara 1-0 FC Rapid Bucureşti (Romanian Liga 1)
(Karamyan 33)

15/08/09 Stuttgart 4-2 SC Freiburg (German Bundesliga)
(Pogrebnyak 53, Elson 65 (pen) 76, Schieber 88; Idrissou 70 85)

Did you know?

Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, whose side lost to Timişoara in the third qualifying round, has been giving Stuttgart's Romanian international striker Ciprian Marica tips on how to overcome his side's play-off rivals. "I had a conversation with Mircea Lucescu, my compatriot and coach of Shakhtar Donetsk," Marica said. "He gave me some advice and I hope I will be able to apply on the pitch what he told me. It was not my wish to play against Timişoara or any other Romanian team. Unfortunately, the draw decided otherwise. I will meet several colleagues from our national team [at the first leg] and let the best win."

Last updated: 18/08/09 21.12CET