Steaua strive for elusive victory

FC Steaua Bucureşti are propping up Group F with just one point from their opening two games and will need to raise their game at home to an Olympique Lyonnais side who have begun their campaign with two draws.

Goalkeeper Robinson Zapata helped Steaua to a Matchday 2 point
Goalkeeper Robinson Zapata helped Steaua to a Matchday 2 point ©Getty Images

Three of the four games in Group F have ended in draws so all the teams in the section can still feel confident about their qualifying chances. FC Steaua Bucureşti, the only side to have suffered a defeat, know they cannot afford many more slips, though, and will be looking to give their UEFA Champions League challenge a push in the right direction as they welcome Olympique Lyonnais to the Steaua Stadium.

• A 0-0 draw at ACF Fiorentina on Matchday 2 was an encouraging way for the Romanian club to follow up their opening-day defeat at home to FC Bayern München. The Italian hosts were left to rue missed opportunities as Steaua were rewarded for their resistance with their first point in the competition. Against Bayern, an early header from Daniel Van Buyten had put Marius Lăcătuş's team on the back foot and they were unable to retrieve the deficit.

• One point from two games is an improvement on Steaua's record last season when they began with an away defeat by SK Slavia Praha and a home loss to Arsenal FC. The 1986 European champions have a poor record in the UEFA Champions League and in 32 group matches over five campaigns have only amassed four wins. Only two came in their own stadium, both 1-0 victories – against Rangers FC in 1995/96 and RTS Widzew Lódz the following season.

• Lyon, meanwhile, sit a point ahead of Steaua after drawing their opening two games. The French champions were staring a home defeat in the face on Matchday 1 after falling 2-0 behind to Fiorentina, but two goals in the last 17 minutes – from Frédéric Piquionne and Karim Benzema – rescued a share of the spoils. They were then pegged back themselves on 30 September by Bayern after taking a first-half lead in Munich and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

• Steaua and Lyon met in the UEFA Champions League group stage two seasons ago when the visitors emerged as 3-0 winners in Bucharest. Fred opened the scoring two minutes before the break with Tiago and Benzema adding to the visitors' advantage with second-half goals.

• The teams for that 26 September 2006 game were:
Steaua: Carlos Fernandes, Dorin Goian, Valentin Badea, Nicolae Dică, Gabriel Bostina (Daniel Oprita), Mihai Neşu, Bănel Nicoliţă, Petre Marin, Florin Lovin (Cyril Thereau), Sorin Paraschiv (Ovidiu Petre), Sorin Ghionea.
Lyon: Grégory Coupet, François Clerc, Cris, Patrick Müller, Juninho Pernambucano, Florent Malouda, Fred (Karim Benzema), Eric Abidal (Anthony Réveillère), Tiago (Kim Källström), Sylvain Wiltord, Jérémy Toulalan.

• The return fixture on 6 December 2006 ended 1-1. The hosts' place at the head of the group was already assured while Steaua were certain of finishing third regardless of the result. Nicolae Dică opened the scoring for the visitors in the second minute but Steaua ultimately had to settle for a point after Alou Diarra's equaliser ten minutes later.

• The teams that night were:
Lyon: Grégory Coupet, Patrick Müller, Claudio Caçapa, Kim Källström, John Carew (Sylvain Wiltord), Anthony Réveillère, Sidney Govou (Loïc Remy), Alou Diarra, Hatem Ben Arfa, Tiago (Jérémy Toulalan), Jérémy Berthod.
Steaua: Cornel Cernea, Dorin Goian, Mirel Rădoi (Ovidiu Petre), Nicolae Dică, Vasilica Cristocea (Daniel Oprita), Bănel Nicoliţă, Petre Marin, Cyril Thereau (Valentin Badea), Sorin Paraschiv, Sorin Ghionea, Stelian Stancu.

• Before Lyon's victory, Steaua had posted a run of four successive victories against French visitors. They beat RC Lens 4-0 in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage on their way to reaching the semi-finals of that competition and previously sent three teams – SC Bastia, Paris Saint-Germain FC and AS Monaco FC – away from Bucharest licking their wounds and without managing a goal.

• On the nine occasions they have received French visiting teams, Steaua have won five and lost three. More worryingly for the Romanian team, as they prepare for a home-and-away challenge with Lyon over the space of 16 days, is they have only once got the better of French opponents on an aggregate basis in eight such contests.

• The 2006/07 fixtures were the first between the teams and only the second time Lyon have faced Romanian opponents. In 1997 they overcame AFC Rapid Bucureşti 2-1 in a UEFA Intertoto Cup tie in Bucharest.

• At UEFA EURO 2008™, Jérémy Toulalan and Benzema played for France against a Romania side featuring Mirel Rădoi, Dorin Goian and Bănel Nicoliţă. The Steaua trio also faced an Italian team which included Fabio Grosso.

• Bayern host Fiorentina in the other game in Group F on Matchday 3.