Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea head into tonight’s match against Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge safe in the knowledge that they will be appearing in the Last 16 of the competition, but will still be aiming for top spot in Group E.
Having been stunned 3-2 by Stoke City in the Premier League last weekend, the West London side will be looking to bounce back against a Bucharest side who are guaranteed to finish bottom of the group no matter what the result. The Romanian club have not won for 22 games in the UEFA Champions League with their last victory coming against FC Dynamo Kiev in 2006.
Mourinho has already confirmed that Ashley Cole will return to the starting line-up although elsewhere he will be ringing the changes. He has however stressed that his side will be targeting the top spot in Group E so that they face a second place finisher in the next round.
David Luiz and Oscar could make an appearance this evening following injuries, and Mourinho has made it clear that he is happy to make a few changes to the line-up:
“We have a strong squad and, in certain positions, we have lots of options,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “In the striking positions we have three, which is the perfect number. All of them are getting minutes and matches.
“I want to have the feeling of winning the game. You never know but, normally, to finish first in the group gives you a better chance, so we have to try to win the game.
“I think we are the best team in the group and we have to prove that by finishing first.”
Chelsea v Steaua Bucharest
Chelsea have qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League for the 11th time in their history.
Chelsea must win to secure the first place in Group E, while Steaua are already out of the European competition, regardless the result of this game.
This will be the 4th meeting between Chelsea and Steaua, with the Blues leading by two wins to one.
Romanian sides have won at English soil only twice in European competition: Universitatea Craiova beat Leeds United at Elland Road in the UEFA Cup in November 1979, while CFR Cluj had the better of Manchester United at Old Trafford in December 2012 in Champions League.
Chelsea have shared only one draw over their last 19 European games, and won three of the last four.
Before losing their last game to Basel 1-0, Chelsea had scored an average of 3.4 goals per game over their previous five Champions League fixtures.
Steaua have drawn their last three Champions League games.
In the reverse fixture in Bucharest, Ramires scored his first brace in Champions League.