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Just two days after replacing Andrea Mandorlini in the CFR 1907 Cluj hot seat, the experienced Sorin Cârţu is poised for "an important milestone" as the Romanian titleholders kick off their campaign at home to an FC Basel 1893 side setting their sights high in Group E.
Sorin Cârţu, CFR Cluj
We're trying to approach this as a normal game. I trust my players and I think playing in the Champions League is motivation in itself for the players. Our Champions League experience [eight of the squad remain from the 2008/09 campaign] is an advantage but Basel have several quality players – Huggel, Streller and Frei – all with lots of experience. We must pay particular attention in the final third; our defenders must be alert.
On a personal level, the Champions League is an important milestone in my career but I have had others. On the domestic front I've won everything so the pressure is to repeat what I've done, not necessarily better it, and return to the group stage next season.
Thorsten Fink, Basel coach
This will be a difficult game for us as we don't quite know what to expect with the change of coach. There are no small teams in the Champions League; Cluj are a good side and anything is possible in football. We're aiming to finish second in the group even though we're third seeds, although third place wouldn't be a tragedy for us – Bayern are naturally the favourites to win the group. I don't really want to name names as we would rather concentrate on our own game, but Cluj do have good players such as the No16 [Rafael Bastos].
Croatian striker Saša Bjelanović picked up an ankle injury in a 2-2 draw with FC Astra Ploiesti on 13 August.
Cabral made his first appearance in over a month against BSC Young Boys on Sunday, though Jacques Zoua (thigh) and Genséric Kusunga (knee) were all ruled out. Fink said in the pre-match conference that Valentin Stocker (ankle) would undergo a fitness test on the day of the game.
10/09/10 FC Rapid Bucureşti 2-0 CFR
(Cássio 58 90+1)
CFR had two players sent off for the second successive away game – Emmanuel Koné (42) and Rafael Bastos (64) – with defeat spelling the end for coach Mandorlini. He was replaced on Monday by Cârţu, who has signed a two-year contract.
12/09/10 BSC Young Boys 2-2 Basel
(Jemal 3, Degen 23; Frei 39, Chipperfield 73)
Substitute Scott Chipperfield scored within two minutes of coming on as Basel earned a point in Berne. They had been two down when the game was held up for eight minutes after Young Boys defender Emiliano Dudar suffered a severe head injury – he was put into an induced coma.
Did you know?
Basel recorded a 1-1 draw at eventual winners FC Barcelona in their last UEFA Champions League group stage campaign in 2008/09, but lost their other five games.
See the match background for more information.
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