It may be a case of who blinks first when CFR 1907 Cluj welcome FC Girondins de Bordeaux in Group A on Tuesday – something not lost on visiting midfielder Alou Diarra who predicts "it will be a tight game".
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It may be a case of who blinks first when CFR 1907 Cluj host FC Girondins de Bordeaux in Group A at the CFR Stadium on Tuesday.
It took an own goal in Bordeaux's favour to separate the sides on 22 October and, with just one point between them and with so much at stake, it is likely to be equally tight again. While Chelsea FC look well-placed to run away with the section, the rest of the group remains wide open – and with games against the leaders and AS Roma to come for both clubs, this match represents CFR and Bordeaux's best chance to stake a claim for second place.
Change of situation
CFR defended deeply before twice hitting Roma on the break to win their opening game and they smothered Chelsea on Matchday 2 to eke out a goalless draw. Similar tactics almost earned a stalemate at the Stade Chaban-Delmas a fortnight ago, before Cadú's misfortune gave Bordeaux their first points of the campaign. Looking forward to Tuesday's return fixture in Romania, visiting midfielder Alou Diarra hoped that a CFR side playing in front of their home crowd and hungry for victory, might open up.
"We hope they will play a bit more and allow us a little more space – and that we make the most of it," Diarra said. "It will be a tight game, just as our first meeting was, and it is up to us to play the perfect match and stay solid in defence and attack on the break whenever we can. Cluj will want their revenge, but we're well-prepared and we know what we have to do to get a good result."
The 27-year-old was in the France team that drew 2-2 with Romania in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Constanta last month and fully recognises the task ahead of Bordeaux. "It will be an intense opening period and we will have to stay focused in front of their fans," said the player signed from Olympique Lyonnais in 2007. "We have to remain solid and vigilant. They are at home and will have the crowd on their side. Like in all Champions League matches, we will also have to be at our best physically."
CFR have already surpassed expectations on their debut in the competition, occupying second spot in Group A at the midway stage. Yet with a place in the knockout rounds within reach, goalkeeper Eduard Stăncioiu insists the team will not change their approach at this key juncture. "At the start, our objective was to finish third in the group and that is still what we are aiming for," the 27-year-old said. "It is obvious that if we win, we could finish second, but all we are thinking about is this match and third place."