Chelsea host Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening, hoping to overturn a 0-1 deficit from the first leg of this UEFA Europa League knock-out tie. The Blues were not at their brightest at the Stadionul Steaua in Bucharest and a penalty, won and converted by Raul Rusescu, proved enough to hand interim manager Rafael Benitez a problem to take back to west London.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 8.05pm GMT. Live coverage is from 7.45pm GMT on ITV 1 and 8.45pm GMT on ITV 1 HD. Radio commentary starts from 8pm GMT on BBC Radio 5 live.
Chelsea recovered well from a shockingly poor first half, at Old Trafford, to force a replay of their FA Cup quarter final weekend tie against Manchester United. Benitez could do little as Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney scored inside the opening 11 minutes and it wasn't till the hour-mark, when Eden Hazard slotted home, Chelsea fans had something to cheer about. Shortly after, though, they had another reason to celebrate, after Ramires punished Sir Alex Ferguson's men on a clinical counterattack.
The date for the replay has yet to be announced but that is irrelevant for now. What is important is that the Stamford Bridge club can take a great deal of confidence into their European knock-out game, providing they play as they did in the second half of the United game.
Domestically, Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League, two points behind Tottenham. They have a reasonably comfortable five-point buffer to Arsenal in fifth, meaning qualification for the Champions League next season is still firmly in their control. In addition, they also have a game in hand over both Spurs and Arsenal (at Fulham).
Benitez has only two wins in his last five games in all competitions, which is a worrying point. At home, though, it is a much better record; he's won four of the last five in all competitions and has not lost since Swansea City shocked him 2-0 in early January.
Bucuresti will be buoyed by the fact Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet, at home, in any European game this season, whether Champions League or Europa League. And considering the Blues do not have an away goal in this tie, if the Romanians can nick one on the break, then the Premier League giants face an uphill battle to remain in European competition this term.
The Romanians come to London after a hard-fought 4-3 away win over Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt in the domestic championship. Bucuresti are running riot in the league, with 18 wins and 56 points from 22 games so far. Their nearest rivals - second-placed FA Astra Ploiesti - are 12 points behind.
In addition, Bucuresti are on a five-match winning streak and have lost only twice in the last 10 matches. And even more impressively, they've kept clean sheets in four of the last five games, as well as having scored 12 goals in their last five league games on the road.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D L W W L
- Last Match: Manchester United 2 - 2 Chelsea
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W W W W W
- Last Match: Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt 3 - 4 Steaua Bucuresti
Chelsea will field Spanish striker Fernando Torres up front, given that January signing Demba Ba is cup-tied. Elsewhere, Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel and Belgian international Eden Hazard will probably start this game, after making a significant impact, coming off the bench, over the weekend. Ex-Barcelona midfielder Oriol Romeu is the one injury absentee for the Blues. Expect captain John Terry to feature in this game.
Probable Line-Up: Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole; Lampard, Obi Mikel; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres
Bucuresti coach Laurentiu Reghecampf will likely name the same side that beat Chelsea last midweek but could opt for a slightly more defensive approach. Expect the Romanians to sit a little deeper and try and hit Chelsea on the counter, particularly if the defensively-minded Daniel Georgievski (fibula) is declared fit. Elsewhere, striker Stefan Nikolic (knee) remains a doubt but Reghecampf has Brazilian Adi Rocha if additional firepower is needed.
Probable Line-Up: Tătăruşanu; Latovlevici, Chiricheş, Szukala, C. Râpă; Pintilii, Chipciu; Bourceanu, Tănase, Adrian Popa; Rusescu