Steaua Bucharest vs Schalke 04 by Rostick
The romanians are in a bad run of form lately, after dominating the domestic league with great authority since the last season. Steaua has just lost the first place after the second consecutive draw. They still have 2 games in hand over the leaders, but their level has clearly decreased this year, and it`s no surprise since their 2 best players (Rusescu and Chiriches) have left the club in the summer. While they are still the best team in the country, Champions League football has proved to be well above Steaua`s level this season and the odds were never in their favor in this group. The hosts were humiliated with 7-0 aggregate by Schalke and Chelsea in the first two matches, and then proceeded to get two draws against a disappointing Basel side. Steaua needs to win this game if they are to have any chances of catching the 3rd place, and coach Reghecampf has promised that his team will play for the three points and nothing less.
Schalke has been poor so far in Bundesliga considering the quality in the squad. The Gelsenkirchen team is only 6th in the standings, but their performances have improved lately. In the last 11 matches, Schalke only lost to Chelsea (twice) and Dortmund, getting 6 wins in the process. Their last outing was a 3-3 draw at Frankfurt over the weekend. Schalke`s main problem is their defense, which is absolutely horrific: the visitors conceded 26 goals in 13 Bundesliga rounds, and they allowed 3 goals in 4 of their last 6 meetings. Incredible stats for a team of this caliber. The germans will look to assure qualification in Bucharest so they won`t have to play a decider against an unpredictable Basel team in the last round. Schalke will try to win, since a draw or a defeat are the exact same thing in the race for qualification (except an unlikely scenario in which Steaua beats Schalke and Chelsea).
Team news & lineups
Steaua has big problems in the defensive midfielder position. They play 4-2-3-1 and they will miss key DM Pintilii, plus his replacement Filip, so Reghecampf will have to improvise with Prepelita. Schalke will miss Huntelaar, Obasi, Hoger and Papadopoulous, while regular keeper Hildebrand has injured himself and will also miss the game.
Steaua: Tatarusanu – Georgievski, Szukala, Gardos, Latovlevici – Prepelita, Bourceanu – Adi Popa, Chipciu, Tanase -Piovaccari
Schalke: Fahrmann – Uchida, Matip, Howedes, Fuchs – Aogo, Jones – Farfan, Mayer, Draxler – Boateng
These two sides met in the first group game, when Schalke won 3-0 but Steaua was unlucky not to get a goal, as they had a couple of good chances. Schalke has three over 2,5 games in 4 UCL matches, Steaua has two.
My input is that we`ll have at least three goals in this one. Steaua is, on paper, an offensive team, but in Champions League the very high level did not allow them to create too many chances. However, they will play a more attacking game today searching a win, and with Schalke’s defense you have to feel the romanians will have a couple of good opportunities to score. On the other hand, the germans are also looking for the three points. They are a machine for overs this season, and with the circumstances in this game (draw = defeat for them), you can expect at least the usual attacking style of play from Schalke. Key misses in the defensive setup for both teams also increase the chances for a high-scoring game. True, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is also unavailable, but he did not play at all this season. Expect a high tempo today, with counterattacks and a lot of goalscoring chances. Schalke has the first
|over 2,5||Betsson||2.02||9||0-0 LOST (-9 units)|
* Odds as of post published time and are subject to change.