Consolation prize key for Bucharest rivals

FC Steaua Bucureşti coach Dorinel Munteanu insists "the result is all that counts" as his side go for broke against ACF Fiorentina needing victory to overtake the Italian team in Group F and earn a place in the UEFA Cup.

Steaua coach Dorinel Munteanu
Steaua coach Dorinel Munteanu ©Getty Images

FC Steaua Bucureşti host ACF Fiorentina on Wednesday knowing that only a first victory in Group F from their final UEFA Champions League game of the season can bring them a consolation place in the UEFA Cup.

No-win situation
Neither side have won a match in a section dominated by FC Bayern München and Olympique Lyonnais, who meet at the Stade de Gerland on Matchday 6 for top honours. But Fiorentina's three points, compared with the one earned by Steaua against the Serie A team at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in September, means the pressure is on the Romanian club. They will also have to cope with the surprise absence of Brazilian striker Arthuro who, along with Spanish midfielder Abel Moreno, ended his contract by mutual agreement on Tuesday. Steaua president Valeriu Argaseala said it was down to "the impossibility of them adapting to Steaua".

Steaua's strength
Dorinel Munteanu, who replaced Marius Lăcătuş as coach after Steaua's 5-3 home defeat by Lyon on Matchday 3, struck an upbeat note and made it clear he was more interested in the outcome than the entertainment value. "We will play with confidence and the desire to qualify," he said. "Only strong teams qualify and it is less important how nice you play. The result is all that counts." Munteanu, whose side have had four domestic draws and one victory since he took over, has a selection headache as central defender Dorin Goian is suspended, midfielder János Székely is out and defender George Ogăraru and forward Pantelis Kapetanos are injury doubts. With the winter break under way in Divizia A, Steaua's last run-out was an inauspicious friendly loss to a Romania A selection on 5 December, out of which Kapetanos limped with a groin injury in the first minute.

Mutu leads charge
Though Fiorentina know it will be more important to defend well than to score, the spotlight is bound to fall on their Romanian striker Adrian Mutu. Paired with Italy's Alberto Gilardino for the Viola, Mutu's celebrity status and goalscoring prowess for Romania make the 29-year-old a popular figure back home; though his past with city rivals FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti is unlikely to endear him to the locals on Wednesday. Munteanu said: "I hope Mutu will be respected by the Romanian fans, because he is a national team player." Mutu returns to Bucharest buoyed by scoring one goal and making another in a morale-boosting 4-1 success at Torino FC in Serie A on Sunday.

Winning finish
Coach Cesare Prandelli does not expect Fiorentina to sit back in the hope of a draw, telling a news conference: "In recent years, this team has always gone out to win matches and I'd prefer to see a team that walks out tomorrow with the same desire. We know it will be difficult but we're not frightened. We'll be up against a really motivated side, but then so are we." On the injury front, captain Dario Dainelli and midfielder Massimo Gobbi are both sidelined, while forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is a question mark with a thigh problem.

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