Massimo Pedrazzini called on his FC Steaua Bucureşti players to "put their hearts and souls" into Tuesday's UEFA Champions League fixture against Arsenal FC.
Massimo Pedrazzini has called on his FC Steaua Bucureşti players to "put their hearts and souls" into Tuesday's UEFA Champions League fixture against Arsenal FC as he tries to enhance both the club's chances of progress from Group H and his own prospects of being handed the coaching reins permanently.
The 49-year-old Italian was appointed caretaker coach two weeks ago after Gheorghe Hagi stood down after just three months in charge, and he has since overseen a draw and two wins – including Saturday's 1-0 success over SC Vaslui – despite a lack of senior coaching experience. The renaissance will come under severe pressure from opponents who are unbeaten in 18 games since 7 April and who top England's Premier League. Pedrazzini remains unfazed, however.
"Everybody will say we're the underdogs but no matter how tough the opposition, matches always start at 0-0," he said. "We have to show self-confidence because we're not just here to make up the numbers. People who achieve big things become a part of football history, and we'll have to put our hearts and souls into the game if we want a victory."
Pedrazzini was part of Hagi's coaching team when Steaua went down 2-1 at SK Slavia Praha on Matchday 1. He now has a chance to stamp his authority on a side attempting to improve on a sequence of only four victories in 25 group stage appointments – no easy task against the firing Gunners. "I don't think Arsenal have any weak points," Pedrazzini continued. "Arsène Wenger can select a team exclusively from quality players ... but they can still be beaten. To achieve that, we have to be clever and take our chances."
On a roll
Steaua have struggled to do exactly that this term, with their eight Romanian league outings yielding just six goals. Arsenal, in contrast, have plundered 16 in seven Premier League matches and boast a two-point advantage at the summit having played a game less than their closest rivals. Saturday's 1-0 triumph at West Ham United FC came at a cost, though, with Aleksandr Hleb sustaining a knee injury which makes him 50-50, according to Wenger; Emmanuel Adebayor (thigh), Mathieu Flamini (groin) and Abou Diaby (ankle) face late fitness tests along with Steaua pair Dorin Goian and Florin Lovin.
'Carry on winning'
"We are the favourites but we also have to be humble," said Wenger. "I've heard Steaua have some problems but sometimes when you play such teams they don't have any problems at all. It will not be our intention to exploit their weaknesses but to play our best and win. Usually ten points is enough to qualify but this group is unpredictable. We would like to qualify as quickly as possible but first we want to continue our positive run."
The Londoners, who lead the section on the back of a 3-0 home defeat of Sevilla FC, are without Jens Lehmann, William Gallas, Eduardo da Silva and Tomáš Rosický, while seven Steaua players are absent with long-term injuries including key men Mirel Radoi, Mihaita Plesan and Sorin Ghionea.