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Rediff.com  » Sports » Chelsea take trip into the unknown against Cluj

Chelsea take trip into the unknown against Cluj

September 30, 2008 13:08 IST

Chelsea take a trip into the unknown when they visit surprising Romanian debutants CFR Cluj with both teams looking to extend their winning starts in the UEFA Champions League Group A on Wednesday.

While Chelsea's 4-0 win over Girondins Bordeaux in their opening match was always likely, Cluj's 2-1 victory over AS Roma in Rome in their first ever match in the competition proper provided a major upset and alerted Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to the potential dangers awaiting his side in Romania.

"We will treat them with total respect. Any team that can win 2-1 at Roma will be dangerous in this competition," Scolari said on the night two weeks ago soon after hearing the result.

Chelsea, last season's beaten finalists, are taking nothing for granted in their first match against Romanian opposition despite Cluj's lack of European experience.

They flew to Romania on Monday, more than 48 hours before the game at Cluj's modest Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium, to prepare for the game but left without injured England forward Joe Cole, who missed Saturday's 2-0 win at Stoke City and is still struggling to overcome a muscle tear in his hip area.

Striker Salomon Kalou, however, did travel after shrugging off an ankle injury he picked up against Stoke as Chelsea won to return to the top of the English Premier League.

CLUJ 'READY'

Cluj go into the match after drawing 1-1 with Steaua Bucharest in a tough league match on Friday which left Cluj fifth in the table, seven points behind Dinamo Bucharest with nine matches played.

"The game showed that we are ready to face Chelsea as we recovered a one-goal deficit and created several good opportunities to score and to win," said Argentine Juan Culio, who scored both their goals in Rome.

Cluj's Ivory Coast striker Yssouf Kone told reporters that he had chatted to his compatriot Kalou, while another Ivornian Didier Drogba, should also feature in the game.

"He congratulated me for our win against Roma, but he warned us that, if we want to draw or beat Chelsea, we are going to have to play twice as well as we managed against Roma.

"I told him I thought Chelsea were four times stronger than Roma so they were favourites, but I feel honoured playing against opponents like Frank Lampard and John Terry.

"You have something to learn just from being on the same pitch as them."

Probable teams:

CFR Cluj: 44-Eduard Stancioiu; 2-Tony, 20-Cadu, 27-De Sousa, 33-Alvaro Pereira; 7-Sebastian Dubarbier, 31-Dani, 6-Gabriel Muresan, 10-Eugen Trica; 19-Juan Culio, 17-Yssouf Kone

Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 17-Jose Bosingwa, 33-Alex, 26-John Terry, 3-Ashley Cole; 20-Deco, 13-Michael Ballack, 8-Frank Lampard, 15-Florent Malouda; 11-Didier Drogba, 39-Nicolas Anelka

Referee: Florian Meyer (Germany)

Radu Timofte in Bucharest
Source:
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