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Steaua and Legia share hunger to return

FC Steaua Bucureşti go in search of a first group stage appearance in five years when they host Legia Warszawa but the Polish title holders have had even longer to wait.

Jan Urban will hope to repeat against Steaua the success he enjoyed against Romania as a Poland player
Jan Urban will hope to repeat against Steaua the success he enjoyed against Romania as a Poland player ©Getty Images

FC Steaua Bucureşti welcome Legia Warszawa to the National Arena with their sights set on securing a UEFA Champions League group stage place for the first time since 2008/09.

• If Steaua, champions of Europe in 1986, think five years is a long time to wait, it is worth noting that Legia have been absent for considerably longer – their one and only appearance in the group stage was back in 1995/96.

Match background
• Romanian title holders Steaua are seeking their seventh participation in the UEFA Champions League group stage. In addition to six previous appearances, they have fallen short in qualifying on another four occasions.

• Laurenţiu Reghecampf's team have overcome FYROM's NK Vardar (5-1 agg) and FC Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia (3-1 agg) to reach this stage, while Legia are here thanks to victories over The New Saints FC (4-1 agg) and Molde FK, edging past the latter on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw.

• Steaua can take heart from some strong home displays in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League, which included victories over AFC Ajax and Chelsea FC before their eventual elimination by the latter side (2-3 agg) in the round of 16.

• Since their sole previous UEFA Champions League group stage appearance in 1995/96, Legia have twice come close to a return only to lose in the final round of qualifying to FC Barcelona in 2002/03 and FC Shakhtar Donetsk in 2006/07.

• Last season Legia won through two qualifying rounds in the UEFA Europa League only to go down 3-2 on aggregate to Rosenborg BK in the play-offs.

• Steaua's only previous two-legged contest with a Polish side came against Zagłębie Lubin in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. Dorin Goian struck the only goal of the first leg in Poland, and Bănel Nicoliţă and Dorel Zaharia earned them a 2-1 comeback victory in the return.

• The Bucharest club also faced RTS Widzew Łódź in the 1996/97 group stage, winning 1-0 at home but losing 2-0 away.

• Legia won in Romania on 20 October 2011 when defeating FC Rapid Bucureşti in the UEFA Europa League group stage through a 73rd-minute Miroslav Radović goal. Radović scored twice and Michał Kucharczyk added a third goal when Legia won the return fixture 3-1 a fortnight later.

• For the reigning Polish champions, that was the first meeting with Romanian opposition since a 4-2 aggregate defeat by Rapid in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup second round – a fate effectively sealed after their 4-0 first-leg loss in Bucharest.

• Legia's only previous European Cup encounter with a Romanian team was against FCM UTA Arad in the 1969/70 first round and brought their second-highest win in UEFA competition. After a 2-1 first-leg success, Legia triumphed 8-0 back in Warsaw in a match where seven of their eight goals came in the last 20 minutes. Edmund Zientara's team went on to reach the semi-finals where they lost to eventual champions Feyenoord.

Team ties
• As a Poland international, Jan Urban faced Romania's national team four times in friendly matches and did not lose once – earning two home wins and two away draws. He scored in a 2-1 home victory at the Legia Stadium on 12 April 1989.

• Dušan Kuciak spent three seasons with SC Vaslui between 2008 and 2011. He was back in Romania on 14 August as an unused substitute in Slovakia's 1-1 friendly draw with Romania at the Bucharest National Arena – precisely one week before facing Steaua at the very same venue.

• Cristian Tănase was in the Romania team that beat Poland 1-0 in a friendly played at Legia's home stadium on 14 November 2009.

• Steaua's Polish defender Łukasz Szukała has never played professional club football in his homeland, but made his Poland debut last Wednesday in the city of his birth, Gdansk – a 3-2 friendly win against Denmark. He has represented clubs in France and Germany as well as Romania.