Third spot on the line in Bucharest

Third place in Group F is at stake when FC Steaua Bucureşti and ACF Fiorentina meet with the home team needing to win while a draw for the Italian visitors would be enough to send them into the UEFA Cup.

Steaua and Fiorentina could not manage a goal between them on Matchday 2
Steaua and Fiorentina could not manage a goal between them on Matchday 2 ©Getty Images

The qualifying places in Group F might be out of reach for both FC Steaua Bucureşti and ACF Fiorentina but there is still plenty to play for in Bucharest. Whoever comes out on top in this battle – a draw will also be enough for the Italian visitors – will finish in third place and continue their European campaign in the UEFA Cup.

• Fiorentina hold the advantage between two teams who are still looking for their first win in the section as they are two points better off. The differential was the same going into Matchday 5 when defeats for both Steaua and the Viola put paid to any lingering hopes that they might overtake FC Bayern München and Olympique Lyonnais in the race to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

• The Romanian club lost 3-0 in Germany with all the goals – Miroslav Klose getting two and Luca Toni one – coming in the second half. At the same time Fiorentina were falling to a 2-1 home reverse at the hands of Lyon with Sébastien Frey twice forced to collect the ball from his net inside the first 27 minutes. Karim Benzema first set up Jean II Makoun before drilling in the second himself. Alberto Gilardino reduced the deficit just before the break with a fine header but the hosts could not find an equaliser.

• It ended 0-0 when the sides met in Florence on 30 September and that remains the only point Steaua have collected in the competition so far. The Italians were left to rue missed opportunities as Steaua were rewarded for their resistance. Against Bayern on Matchday 1 an early header from Daniel Van Buyten silenced the Bucharest crowd and proved to be the contest's only goal.

• Steaua's other home game in the group, with Lyon the visitors, was a thrilling affair. They were given a great start as Arthuro and Dorin Goian scored inside the opening eleven minutes before Lyon levelled through Benzema and Kader Keita. Ovidiu Petre headed Steaua back in front but another Benzema strike and two goals from Fred in the second half secured the points for the Ligue 1 side and prompted the departure of Steaua coach Marius Lăcătuş.

• New man Dorinel Munteanu was in charge two weeks later for the return contest in France which ended 2-0 to the hosts with Juninho Pernambucano's free-kick and a late strike from Anthony Réveillère making the difference.

• The stalemate in Florence means that Steaua – who in 35 group matches over six campaigns have amassed just four wins and eleven draws, the last victory coming at FC Dynamo Kyiv on 13 September 2006 – have now played ten times against opponents from Italy without tasting victory. Moreover they have not managed to score a single goal in those games.

• The defeat that resonates most with their older supporters is the 4-0 reverse that AC Milan inflicted in the 1989 European Champion Clubs' Cup final staged at Camp Nou. There was also a 3-0 loss against Juventus in the 1995/96 group stage but all the other games have either ended 0-0 or been decided by a single goal in favour of the Italian sides.

• Two of the three contests in the Steaua Stadium have ended goalless – against AS Roma in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round and Juventus in the 1995/96 UEFA Champions League group stage. There was also a 1-0 defeat by Genoa CFC in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup third round.

• The Viola's 2008/09 campaign began away to Lyon when two headed goals by Gilardino at either end of the first half got their second appearance in the competition in its modern guise off to a fantastic start. However, the home team hit back to secure a point. After the disappointment of the goalless home game with Steaua, Fiorentina then succumbed 3-0 away to Bayern and to make matters worse the Italian club's former striker Toni laid on the first two goals.

• On Matchday 4, Cesare Prandelli's team led in the return against Bayern through Adrian Mutu's eleventh-minute volley. However their hopes for a first victory were dashed when Tim Borowski struck with a low drive late on.

• Fiorentina will be looking for their first victory in an official game in Romania. Their last visit brought a 1-1 draw against CF Gloria 1922 Bistrita in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round. Before that there were 1-0 and 3-1 defeats against FC Universitatea Craiova in the first round of the UEFA Cup in 1973/74 and 1982/83 respectively.

• Fiorentina striker Mutu counts FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti among his former clubs and will be facing many of his Romanian international team-mates. At UEFA EURO 2008™, a Romania outfit featuring Mirel Rădoi, Dorin Goian and Bănel Nicoliţă drew 1-1 with Italy in Zurich.

• The section's other Matchday 6 fixture pits Lyon against Bayern.

• 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.

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