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Eliminated in eight successive UEFA Champions League second qualifying rounds prior to this season, FC Sheriff will become the first Moldovan side to compete in the group stage of a UEFA club competition when they cross the border to visit FC Steaua Bucureşti in Group H.
• This is the first time that teams from Romania and neighbouring Moldova have met in a UEFA club competition. Their respective national teams have played in five friendlies over the years, with Romania winning four games and the other – the only one staged in Moldova – ending in a draw.
• Steaua competed successfully in two UEFA Cup group stage competitions, reaching the round of 16 in 2004/05 and then making it to the semi-finals the following season, where they lost out to Middlesbrough FC.
• Steaua won all six of their UEFA Europa League qualifying games this season, but they have not won a group stage game in any competition since beating Halmstads BK 3-0 in the penultimate match of their 2005/06 UEFA Cup Group C campaign. Their nine subsequent UEFA Champions League group stage home games produced two draws and seven defeats.
• Founded in 1997, Sheriff are a tough nut to crack away from home. They have only once conceded more than one goal in their last eleven away games, losing 2-0 at AC Sparta Praha in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. Their record during this run reads W3 D3 L5.
• Steaua are coached by Italian Cristiano Bergodi, a one-time S.S. Lazio defender and assistant coach who has been in Romania since 2005, coaching FC National Bucureşti, CFR 1907 Cluj, FC Rapid Bucureşti and FC Politehnica Iaşi before replacing Marius Lăcătuş as Steaua coach in June 2009.
• Sheriff's coach is Belarussian Leonid Kuchuk, who has led the club to the last six of their nine straight Moldovan titles since stepping up from the position of youth-team trainer in January 2004. This is the longest current winning streak in European football, and the coach said: "The secret of our success is simple. Every draw for us is like a defeat and every defeat is like a natural disaster."
• The coach's son, Aleksei, is an important figure in the Sheriff attack.
• Previous Sheriff coaches include a Steaua star of the 1980s, Gavril 'Pele' Balinţ, and Mihai Stoichiţă, who led the Army Men to the Romanian league title in 1998.
• Steaua visit FC Twente on Matchday 2, while Sheriff are at home to Fenerbahçe SK on the same night, 1 October.
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