Chelsea will travel to Romania for a showdown with Steaua Bucuresti on Tuesday evening, a match that will be the second UEFA Champions League tilt of the year for both clubs.
Both the Blues and the Speedsters will be looking for their first win at the European competition.
Jose Mourinho's side has slowed down after an impressive Premier League start; Chelsea have two wins, two losses and Saturday's draw with Tottenham Hotspur on their ledger over their last five matches.
One of those losses was to FC Basel, who handed the Blues a 2-1 defeat to spoil The Special One's return to Champions League play in front of Stamford Bridge faithful.
Steaua finished first in Liga I last year and are atop the table again after going unbeaten in seven league matches in 2013. The hosts are big underdogs in the Group E table but are still alive and in the same boat as the visitors.
With an experienced roster and Laurentiu Reghecampf at the helm, the home side will look to shake off a 3-0 setback to Schalke 04 with an upset win over Chelsea.
We'll prepare you for this crucial Champions League group-stage match below.
Who: Steaua Bucuresti vs. Chelsea
What: 2013-14 UEFA Champions League Group Stage
When: Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. BST)
Where: The National Arena; Bucharest, Romania
Watch: Fox Sports 2
Live Stream: FoxSoccer2Go
Listen: Sirius XM FC (XM Internet 965)
Odds*: Steaua Bucuresti (14.8 percent), Chelsea (61.0 percent), Draw (24.2 percent)
*Odds courtesy Bloomberg Sports as of 9/30/13.
2013-14 UEFA Champions League Group E Table
|1||FC Schalke 04||1||1||0||0||+3||3|
*via Fox Sports.
Chelsea Looking to Bounce Back
Dealing with internal turmoil over player selection and losses to Everton and Basel still fresh on their minds, Chelsea will have plenty of motivation to right the ship and earn three points.
Mourinho's player selection has received criticism over the past few weeks, and that frustration reached a head at Chelsea's Monday night press conference.
As chronicled by Mirror's Ben Curtis, Mourinho stormed out of the meeting with reporters after a line of questioning concerning Kevin De Bruyne being left at home for the match.
He explained that he didn't like the way De Bruyne played against Swindon or his training performance and promptly left those in attendance in the dust abruptly. Needless to say, a convincing win over Steaua would dispel some of the frustration currently surrounding the Blues.
Per the team's official Twitter account, midfielder Frank Lampard feels his club needs to get off to a fast start to help accomplish that goal:
Lampard says it is an experienced squad and it does not underestimate teams in the Champions League. Chelsea must start well tomorrow. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) September 30, 2013
Lampard has also praised Juan Mata—who figures to see an increased role on Tuesday—for fighting through adversity instead of pouting about finding himself in and out of favor with Mourinho's first-team selections. Sky Sports' Football Twitter account had that post on Monday:
Frank Lampard has praised Juan Mata for showing the right character to fight for his place at Chelsea. http://t.co/Bj0HXMq8H1— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 30, 2013
Distractions abound, but winning cures all. A road victory would give Chelsea some much-needed momentum both in the UCL table and heading into their upcoming string of EPL matches.
Chelsea 4, Steaua Bucuresti 1
Steaua was dominated by Schalke 04 in their first Champions League group match, losing by three goals to a German side that were dominated by Bayern Munich less than two weeks ago.
What's your prediction?
Federico Piovaccari has five league goals to lead the Steaua attack, and Reghecampf will rely on Adrian Popa, Alexandru Bourceanu and Gabriel Iancu to make things difficult on the Chelsea defenders.
But the Blues have more to lose in this one and will come out motivated behind the threat of a winless start in the European tournament. Between Oscar, Eden Hazard and Mata, Mourinho has options up front and is starting to get a firmer grasp on his lineup.
Expect Chelsea to dominate this match on all fronts. Steaua will find a way to push one past Petr Cech, but it's the Blues who move closer to advancing to the round of 16 by the end of the match.
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