Gross rallies VfB for Unirea decider

The equation is simple as VfB Stuttgart meet FC Unirea Urziceni on Matchday 6: the German team, under new coach Christian Gross, must win to pip their Romanian visitors to the first knockout round.

Gross rallies VfB for Unirea decider
Gross rallies VfB for Unirea decider ©

The equation is simple as VfB Stuttgart take on Group G rivals FC Unirea Urziceni on Matchday 6: the German side are two points behind their second-placed opponents and must win to snatch a UEFA Champions League first knockout round berth from the Romanian debutants. To add to the drama, Bundesliga strugglers Stuttgart are under a new coach after Christian Gross replaced Markus Babbel on Sunday and he issued a rallying cry to his players. Unirea's Dan Petrescu admitted their hosts' experience makes them "favourites".

Christian Gross, Stuttgart coach
We have to appeal to the players' consciences. Why are they professionals? Why did they chose this profession? We have to instil them with the knowledge that it is only fun if you win. I am a person who looks forward. I want to see the players enjoy training and have the willingness to give everything for the club. Commitment. It is great to take part in the Champions League. This game is of huge importance and a win would be so significant for all of us. It would make everything much easier.

Dan Petrescu, Unirea coach
It will be a hard-fought game. Both teams obviously want to progress, but the main pressure is on Stuttgart given recent events. The chances are even. I am happy about my players being optimistic but I think Stuttgart are favourites. They are at home and have amassed some experience in Europe. Also, they want to make amends with their fans and, last but not least, they have a new coach which will give another boost to the team. Both teams have injury worries. For us it has never been about individuals – it has always been about the team. We are missing three players. So what? We have to compensate as a team.

Weekend results
05/12/09 Stuttgart 1-1 VfL Bochum 1848
(Tasci 63; Fuchs 89)

• A late Christian Fuchs strike denied Stuttgart three much-needed points, leaving them third from bottom with just one win in 13 outings in all competitions and ultimately spelling the end of Babbel's reign.

• The club confirmed Babbel's departure on Sunday, also unveiling Gross. The Swiss, who oversaw his first training session the same evening, said: "It's an honourable but very difficult task. It's all about saving what's left to be saved."

04/12/09 FC Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt 2-3 Unirea
(Ibrahim 30, Fabbron 36; Semedo 31, Onofraş 55, Brandán 86pen)

• Unirea came from behind at Liga 1's bottom club to register their fourth successive victory. Pablo Brandán's first league goal of the season clinched the points, the defender converting from the spot.

• It was only the sixth time in 16 league outings this term that Petrescu's team have scored more than once.

Team news
Out: Thomas Hitzlsperger (thigh), Roberto Hilbert (knee), Martin Lanig (cruciate)
Doubtful: Sami Khedira (foot), Zdravko Kuzmanović, Arthur Boka (both thigh), Cacau (groin)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: none

Out: Ricardo Vilana (knee)
Doubtful: George Galamaz (ankle)
Suspended: Vasile Maftei
Misses next match if booked: George Galamaz, Ricardo Vilana

• On whether Galamaz will play after being hurt along with Ricardo Vilana at the weekend, Petrescu said: "The chances are very, very small. Although he is the captain and a very important player, he will only play if he is 100 per cent fit. But if he is missing, we need not worry, as we will have eleven players on the pitch. "

• Stuttgart qualified for their third group-stage campaign after coming through a play-off test against another Romanian side, FC Timişoara. It finished goalless at the VfB Arena after Stuttgart had won 2-0 away.

• In their only other fixture against Romanian opponents, Stuttgart beat FC Rapid Bucureşti 2-1 at home in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage.

• As for Unirea, their only previous away meeting with a German outfit produced a 0-0 draw at Hamburger SV in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup first round, their debut in UEFA competition. They bowed out of the competition after losing the second leg 2-0 at home.

Did you know?
Petrescu was in the Chelsea side that beat Stuttgart 1-0 to win the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Stockholm.

For more information on the match in the official press kit, click here.