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UEFA Champions League Preview: Schalke v Steaua Bucharest

Schalke will look to build on back-to-back Bundesliga wins when they host Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

After failing to register a victory in their opening three league matches, Schalke have responded strongly, notching wins against Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz.

Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has played a big part in transforming the club’s fortunes since arriving from Milan on August 30 and he scored the only goal in their 1-0 win at Mainz on Saturday.

And the Ghana international is hopeful Schalke can carry their newly found momentum into the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition.

“I’m very, very happy that we collected a win today and I hope that it can continue like this,” Boateng said after Saturday’s win.

“We were well organised and rarely afforded Mainz a sight of goal.

“Now I hope we can maintain our momentum going into the Champions League.”

Schalke earned their place in the group stages with a last-gasp 4-3 aggregate victory over Greek outfit PAOK in the play-off round.

Jens Keller’s side were involved in the competition last season, but were knocked out in the round of 16 by Galatasaray, and will look for a strong start in a tough Group E that also includes UEFA Europa League winners Chelsea, and Basel.

Schalke’s best ever Champions League performance came in 2011 when they reached the semi-finals, but they were knocked out by Manchester United 6-1 on aggregate.

Steaua Bucharest will head into the game brimming with confidence after making an unbeaten start to their league campaign.

They sit in fourth after four wins and a draw from their opening five matches, and will be buoyed by their 5-0 demolition of Sageata Navodari on Saturday.

The Romanian champions also secured their entry in the competition from the play-off round, defeating Legia Warsaw on away goals after the two sides were locked at 3-3 over two legs.

This season will be Steaua’s first in the Champions League since 2008-09, and they will hope to fare better than they did on that occasion, as they won just one point from their six group matches and exited the competition at the first hurdle.

Steaua will face a tough test initially though, with Schalke sure to be confident about extending their run of good form.

Mon 16 September, 2013
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