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FC Sheriff welcome back former coach Mihai Stoichiţă on Matchday 5 as he returns in charge of FC Steaua Bucureşti with both sides looking to climb towards the Group H qualification spots.
• Out of the two clubs, it is the hosts who have the best chance of gaining a top-two place. Sheriff would move into a qualifying position if they beat Steaua and FC Twente lose at home against Fenerbahçe SK. Steaua – without a victory in four games – can only progress if they take maximum points from their two remaining games and Twente do not win at home against Fenerbahçe.
• The first meeting of clubs from Moldova and neighbouring Romania ended in an inconclusive 0-0 draw on Matchday 1. 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.
• A 2-0 win against Twente on Matchday 3 ended Sheriff's three-game wait for a home success in Europe, during which they had failed to score. They have scored only three goals in five continental home games this season.
• Steaua's away record in UEFA club competition group-stage outings is not great – they have won only two of 24 fixtures on their travels, the most recent of them a 4-1 UEFA Champions League triumph at FC Dynamo Kyiv on 13 September 2006. They have not won in ten away games since.
• Steaua have conceded 296 goals in 229 UEFA club competition encounters, leaving them four shy of shipping their 300th.
• Steaua became the first side to dismiss their coach after the start of the group stage when owner George Becali sacked Italian trainer Cristiano Bergodi on the night of their 0-0 Matchday 1 draw with Sheriff.
• His replacement was Stoichiţă, who has returned to Steaua after leading them to the Romanian title in 1998. He took charge of Sheriff in 2001/02, when they picked up the Moldovan championship, and also coached PFC Litex Lovech, Panama, Armenia, Kuwait and most recently AEL Limassol FC in Cyprus.
• 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, plays up front for Sheriff.
• As well as Stoichiţă, another man with Steaua connections – 1980s star Gavril 'Pele' Balinţ – has also taken charge of Sheriff in recent years.
• Steaua host Twente on Matchday 6, while Sheriff visit Fenerbahçe on the same night, 17 December.
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