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Learning curve too steep for Lovin

Florin Lovin felt FC Steaua Bucureşti have struggled thus far in the UEFA Champions League after a brave display and a 2-0 home defeat against Sevilla FC.

Florin Lovin felt FC Steaua Bucureşti were "too small" for the UEFA Champions League after a brave display and a 2-0 home defeat against Sevilla FC on Wednesday.

'Too small'
Two goals from Brazilian midfielder Renato won the day in Bucharest and left Lovin – deployed as a sweeper – with a gloomy outlook for LIGA I sides in Europe's top club competition. "In five or ten years I don't think there will be any Romanian club capable of competing with teams like Sevilla," said the 25-year-old. "We are too small for the UEFA Champions League."

Damage limitation
Yet to win a point in Group H, and already out of contention for the last 16, Lovin says his side are now looking at a damage limitation exercise as they host SK Slavia Praha on Matchday 5. "We have only a theoretical chance of finishing third but we have to beat Slavia in our next match because it would be shameful to finish the group without any points."

'Not disappointed'
Fellow defender Ifeanyi Emeghara was not quite so negative in his outlook. While Steaua are four points adrift of third-placed Slavia, he remained upbeat about their prospects of a UEFA Cup place. "We lost, but I am not disappointed about the way we played," he said. "We have still two matches to play and we have to fancy our chances."

Battling defeat
Romanian international midfielder Bănel Nicoliţă felt that his side had not disgraced themselves. "It was a tough match, but I think that we also had bad luck," he said. "We gave it everything on the pitch and that's why we can't be disappointed with ourselves. We have a very good team and we have to regain our self-confidence and win our next matches, especially against Slavia."

Final games
Having lost 2-1 at Slavia in their opening fixture, Steaua have yet to regain their footing. As defender Mihai Neşu put it, "if we had achieved positive results in those first matches, maybe the next games would have gone better". However, a win against Slavia – and then an unlikely positive result in their final match at Arsenal FC – could yet give Steaua a happy ending.