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Bucharest braced for big night

Published: Wednesday 29 March 2006, 18.30CET
Bucharest bragging rights are at stake along with a place in the last four of the UEFA Cup when AFC Rapid Bucuresti tackle FC Steaua Bucuresti this evening.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest

Tournament statistics

Rapid BucureştiSteaua

Goals scored14
 
23
Attempts on target37
 
55
Attempts off target33
 
59
Corners36
 
55
Offsides28
 
36
Fouls committed172
 
133
Yellow cards20
 
15
Red cards0
 
0

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Published: Wednesday 29 March 2006, 18.30CET

Bucharest braced for big night

Bucharest bragging rights are at stake along with a place in the last four of the UEFA Cup when AFC Rapid Bucuresti tackle FC Steaua Bucuresti this evening.

Bucharest bragging rights are at stake along with a place in the last four of the UEFA Cup when the Romanian capital's two most popular clubs, AFC Rapid Bucuresti and FC Steaua Bucuresti, get their quarter-final under way on Thursday.

Greater pedigree
Visitors Steaua are six points and two places above their First Division rivals and boast the greater pedigree in continental competition, having won the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1986. However, Rapid can take confidence from a superlative UEFA Cup record this season at their Giulesti stadium - eight ties yielding as many victories, with 16 goals scored and none conceded. Steaua are also without a win at Rapid since 26 April 2003.

Grigore winner
Rapid defeated FC National 2000 Bucuresti 1-0 on Sunday, Nicolae Grigore scoring a spectacular 87th-minute header. Coach Razvan Lucescu said his players "we're a little bit tired" after that triumph, but would need little encouragement to rouse themselves for Steaua. Aside from long-term injury victims Marius Maldarasanu and Artavazd Karamyan, and the ineligible Daniel Pancu, Lucescu has a full squad to choose from.

'Concern'
Whether he does in the return at Steaua's temporary Lia Manoliu home next week is doubtful, as ten Rapid players are a booking away from suspension. Lucescu said: "Obviously it's a concern having so many players in danger of being suspended, but I hope they will be intelligent enough not to respond to any potential provocation. We're not afraid of Steaua and cannot wait to get started, although everyone should understand that this is only a football match, not a war."

Ticket machines
With the game being the hottest ticket in town, special machines that electronically read tickets have been installed in front of each turnstile to prevent supporters with forgeries entering the ground. Romanian president Traian Basescu also invited both teams to his palace to honour their achievements in reaching the quarter-finals, using it as an opportunity to warn that "any violence or racism will destroy everything built on the pitch".

'Weaknesses'
Steaua were also weekend winners, claiming a first victory at Lia Manoliu, 2-1 against third-placed FCU Politehnica Timisoara. Dorin Goian missed out with a thigh injury and is a doubt. Definitely absent are Victoras Iacob (shoulder) and Gabriel Bostina (suspended), although coach Cosmin Olaroiu remains confident. "Rapid are a good and well-organised side, but like all teams they have their weaknesses. We want to score at Rapid and I'm sure my players will show full commitment to ensure we do. This is the match of our lives."

Last updated: 30/03/06 22.11CET

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