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Chelsea aiming to win race for first place

Chelsea FC have not had things all their own way in Group A but the chance to win the section – a feat they have managed in four of the five previous campaigns – is there for them should they overcome CFR 1907 Cluj.

Chelsea and CFR played out a goalless draw in their meeting on 1 October
Chelsea and CFR played out a goalless draw in their meeting on 1 October ©Getty Images

Another away game without victory for Chelsea FC – their third in succession in Group A – has knocked last season's UEFA Champions League runners-up off the top spot in the section for the first time since the end of Matchday 1. They need to beat CFR 1907 Cluj to guarantee their place in the knockout rounds, an achievement they have managed in all six of their previous campaigns.

• Alou Diarra's late headed equaliser for FC Girondins de Bordeaux at Stade Chaban-Delmas last time out denied Luiz Felipe Scolari's team a first away triumph in the competition in seven attempts, a run which includes last season's final loss to Manchester United FC on penalties. At the same time, CFR's third consecutive reverse – at home to AS Roma – quashed the debutants' own qualifying prospects and whatever the Matchday 6 results, Maurizio Trombetta's team are certain to pick up the wooden spoon.

• In a pulsating contest in south-west France, Chelsea hoped they were heading for the victory that would have removed any doubt about their place in the next phase when Nicolas Anelka opened the scoring against the run of play on the hour. However the Ligue 1 outfit were a very different proposition to the team who had surrended 4-0 in London on Matchday 1 and fully deserved a share of the spoils which arrived as Diarra met Yoann Gourcuff's corner. Visiting midfielder Frank Lampard then received a second yellow card in the closing minutes and will miss this game.

• After beating Bordeaux in their first Group A game, Chelsea were also successful in their second home match in the competition, a 1-0 victory against Roma which was sealed thanks to a John Terry header following Lampard's corner with 13 minutes remaining. That left the London club with a four-point advantage at the top and fully confident that they could win the section for the fifth time in the last six seasons – a feat they will pull off if they win on 9 December and Roma, who play host to Bordeaux, do not.

• However, since 22 October Scolari's men have only added one more point to their tally from two games. They lost the return in the Stadio Olimpico 3-1 with former Chelsea defender Christian Panucci edging the hosts ahead. Two stunning Mirko Vučinić strikes then helped Roma establish a comfortable lead and although Terry gained some consolation by scoring in successive UEFA Champions League games, Deco's late dismissal made it a night to forget for the visitors.

• On Matchday 2, Chelsea hoped to follow up their exhilarating start to another attempt at winning Europe's greatest club prize with three more points in the game at CFR. However the Romanian champions had other ideas and forced a 0-0 draw in a match where both teams struggled to carve out clear scoring chances.

• Chelsea have not been beaten at home in 14 UEFA Champions League matches of which they have won eleven and drawn three. They last lost at Stamford Bridge in February 2006 when FC Barcelona triumphed 2-1 in a first knockout round first-leg meeting.

• CFR joined Chelsea as winners on 16 September with a splendid start to their first UEFA Champions League foray. Trombetta's team fell behind to Panucci's early goal but came back strongly with Argentinian midfielder Juan Culio equalising on 27 minutes before volleying the winner early in the second half.

• Their back-to-back matches with Bordeaux introduced a dose of reality into CFR's campaign, the Romanian champions first going down 1-0 in France through an own goal by their captain Cadú. In the home game two weeks later CFR fell behind to Gourcuff's sixth-minute strike and while Dani quickly levelled matters, Wendel's 38th-minute free-kick proved enough to give the visitors victory.

• Their previous meeting in October was a first for both these clubs. Chelsea had not tackled Romanian opponents before in an official fixture while CFR's experience against teams from outside their country has been so limited that it was not only their first competitive game against English opposition but the first time they had met any side from the British Isles.

• CFR midfielder Emmanuel Koné is an international team-mate of Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou with the Ivory Coast.

• The draw for the UEFA Champions League first knockout round will take place at 12.00CET on Friday 19 December at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Group winners will be paired against runners-up from different sections with the second-placed teams playing the first leg at home. Clubs from the same associations cannot be drawn together.