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Steaua, Real in pivotal Group E clash

October 16, 2006 15:52 IST

 Real Madrid will be looking to turn the clock back more than 40 years when they take on Steaua Bucharest in a pivotal Champions League Group E match on Tuesday.

Real last won in Romania when they beat Dinamo Bucharest in the second round of the European Cup in the 1963-64 season and have not won on four visits since.

A victory over Steaua would boost their chances of advancing from the group which reaches the halfway stage this week.

The same, though, goes for Steaua. Both teams have three points from their opening two matches and both could do with a win on Tuesday. Olympique Lyon top the group with six points, followed by Real and Steaua on three and Dynamo Kiev with none.


Real travel to Bucharest after suffering their first league defeat of the season on Saturday when they went down 1-0 at Getafe. It was their worst performance since Fabio Capello took over as coach in August.

"We played badly and suffered because of Getafe's speed and aggression," the Italian said. "There are no excuses. They played with more enthusiasm and intensity than us and deserved to win."

Real barely managed a shot on goal, were outplayed in midfield and looked shaky at the back against Bernd Schuster's side.

They will have to produce a much improved performance if they are to have a chance of beating Steaua on Tuesday and avoid losing further ground on Lyon.

The nine-times European champions will be without skilful winger Jose Antonio Reyes who is still struggling with a muscle injury, while full back Michel Salgado has a calf problem that kept him out of the Getafe match. Neither travelled with the squad.

Skipper Raul is also doubtful after straining his ankle on Saturday but centre-back Fabio Cannavaro should return after missing out because of a minor injury problem following Italy's 2-0

victory over Ukraine.

Ronaldo was sent off in the closing minutes for back chat to the referee but will be available for the Steaua match although the Brazilian looked off the pace and failed to make any impact after coming on as a second-half substitute.


Steaua will be without skipper Mirel Radoi and prolific striker Victoras Iacob who grabbed nine goals in the UEFA Cup last season.

Both are recovering after knee surgery and both miss the clash considered in Romania "the sporting event of the year."

Steaua coach Cosmin Olaroiu's worries increased when his talismanic playmaker Vasilica Cristocea strained a muscle in training and is also out.

Left back Mihaita Nesu (right knee) is doubtful.

Steaua prepared for the match with a 4-2 win over CFR Cluj at the weekend, resting several key players for the Madrid game.

"My players, whose morale suffered as a result of the 3-0 defeat by Olympique Lyon, have forgotten that miserable night," Olaroiu said. "Now we have nothing to lose but all to gain against Real Madrid."

Probable teams:

Steaua Bucharest: 13-Carlos Fernandes; 23-Klemi Saban, 3-Dorin Goian, 24-Sorin Ghionea, 18-Petre Marin; 7-Daniel Oprita, 22-Sorin Paraschiv, 20-Florin Lovin, 16-Banel Nicolita; 21-Cyril Thereau, 10-Nicolae Dica.

Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 4-Sergio Ramos, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 15-Raul Bravo, 3-Roberto Carlos; 23-David Beckham, 6-Mahamadou Diarra, 8-Emerson, 14-Guti or 10-Robinho; 18-Antonio Cassano or 9-Ronaldo, 17-Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)

(Additional reporting by Simon Baskett in Madrid)

Radu Timofte
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