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FC Schalke 04 were group winners in their past two UEFA Champions League participations and will be intent on another strong showing as they launch their Group E campaign against FC Steaua Bucureşti, who have an unenviable record in the competition.
• The omens are promising for the German club, who recorded a win and a draw when the teams met two years ago.
• The sides met in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage when Schalke won 2-1 at home and drew 0-0 away. After the stalemate in Cluj-Napoca on matchday one, Kyriakos Papadopoulos (25) put the German side ahead in the return and, although Raul Rusescu soon fired an equaliser, Raúl González scored Schalke's winner early in the second half.
• The teams in Gelsenkirchen on 1 December 2011 were:
Schalke: Unnerstall, Papadopoulos, Baumjohann (Draxler 65), Höger, Jones, Holtby (Moritz 78), Jurado, Fuchs, Raúl González, Huntelaar (Marica 83), Matip.
Steaua: Tătăruşanu, Iliev, Latovlevici (Prepeliţă 68), Martinović, Geraldo Alves, Brandán, Tănase, Bicfalvi, Bourceanu, Rusescu (Nikolić 69), M Costea (Roşu 88).
• Schalke met FC Sportul Studenţesc Bucureşti in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup second round, winning 1-0 away and 4-0 at home in what was their only previous tie against a Romanian side.
• Steaua's long winless run against German teams continued last season when they were paired with VfB Stuttgart in the UEFA Europa League group stage, drawing 2-2 away and going down 5-1 in Bucharest.
• Steaua's 16 fixtures against German sides have ended W1 D6 L9; away from home it is W0 D3 L6. That includes a 1957/58 European Champion Clubs' Cup first round replay, which Steaua lost 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund on neutral ground in Bologna.
• Steaua's lone victory came in the second leg of that Dortmund tie on 8 December 1957, meaning they have not beaten a Bundesliga side in 14 games spanning almost 56 years.
• After a 1-1 home draw with PAOK FC in the play-offs, Jens Keller's Schalke faced an uphill task to qualify in the return when Ádám Szalai's opener was cancelled out and Jermaine Jones sent off. However Julian Draxler and Szalai struck second-half goals to steer Schalke through 4-3 on aggregate.
• Schalke began last season's competition with a 2-1 away win at Olympiacos FC, the first time they had avoided a matchday one defeat in what was their fifth group stage campaign.
• At home Schalke drew 2-2 with Montpellier Hérault SC and Arsenal FC and beat Olympiacos 1-0. In the round of 16 they looked set to make further progress after drawing 1-1 at Galatasaray AŞ but then lost 3-2 at home.
• Steaua are the only Romanian club to have won the European Cup, winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1985/86 by defeating FC Barcelona in a penalty shoot-out.
• This is their first time in the group stage since 2008/09 and their seventh campaign overall. In those 36 matches they have amassed just four wins and 11 draws; away their record is two wins and four draws in 18 games. Their last victory came at FC Dynamo Kyiv on 13 September 2006; since then they have recorded two draws and six defeats.
• Their away form served Laurenţiu Reghecampf's team well in this season's qualifying rounds, a 2-2 draw at Legia Warszawa taking them through the play-offs on away goals after a 1-1 home draw.
• In the third qualifying round Gabriel Iancu scored twice to earn the Romanian champions a 2-0 win at FC Dinamo Tbilisi, a 1-1 draw at the Arena Națională ensuring their passage.
• Federico Piovaccari scored the first of his three qualifying goals to help Steaua to overcome FK Vardar 2-1 in Skopje in the second qualifying round. The 3-0 first-leg victory was Steaua's 100th win in UEFA competition in their 265th match.
• Steaua coach Reghecampf had spells as a player in Germany at 1. FC Energie Cottbus, Alemannia Aachen and 1. FC Kaiserslautern. In seven meetings with Schalke he suffered six defeats with a solitary victory.
• During this time he came up against Jens Keller who played for 1. FC Köln (2000-2002) and Eintracht Frankfurt (2002-2005).
• As assistant coach, Keller's VfB Stuttgart eliminated FC Timișoara in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League play-offs with a 2-0 aggregate victory. Alexandru Bourceanu and Iasmin Latovlevici were with the Romanian club at the time.
• Łukasz Szukała has both Polish and German citizenship. He started with SV Eintracht Trier 05's youth team before playing for TSV 1860 München and Aachen.
• Substitute Alexandru Chipciu scored an added-time equaliser to earn Romania a 2-2 draw against Szalai's Hungary in a 2014 FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifier in Budapest on 22 March 2013. Ciprian Tătăruşanu, Mihai Pintilii and Alexandru Bourceanu also featured for the visitors.
• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored in the Netherlands' 2-0 win over Romania in the UEFA EURO 2008 group stage in Berne.
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