Chelsea's John Terry reacts during their Europa League soccer match against Steaua Bucharest in Bucharest March 7, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel (ROMANIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Chelsea's poor season saw a rare positive sign when it rebounded from a 2-0 deficit and earned a 2-2 draw against Manchester United in the FA Cup. Now the team looks to make a major statement when it takes on Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League Round of 16.
The Blues lost the first leg 1-0 thanks to a penalty. Even though the call was contested, the team's poor performance was the main reason for the loss. However, another major factor has been the compressed schedule. The team played last Thursday and then competed on Sunday. A win on Thursday would signal more matches in a few weeks. During a press conference, manager Rafa Benitez joked about the fans being upset over the schedule "I can do nothing about that. I just concentrate on my job and try to do my best, preparing the team for every competition," he said. "Maybe someone else will blame me. Some people always say that it's my fault, that everything is my fault.''
"You have to analyze every single thing and you will decide what to do and still someone will criticize you,'' he added about the difficult of managing with such a tight schedule. "If you lose a game, it's 'oh, he picked the wrong player' or whatever... It's quite difficult, but each team is different and it depends on the players that you have, the positions and the congestion."
Bucharest has a prime opportunity to move on to the next round, but knows that playing in Chelsea will be no easy task. ''We are well aware that the supporters, the crowd has a very big role, a very important role, especially if we were to go ahead early,'' said Steaua Bucharest managers Laurentiu Reghencampf said. "I can do nothing about that. I just concentrate on my job and try to do my best, preparing the team for every competition."
Predictions: Chelsea wins 4-0.
Start Time: 4:05 PM EST
TV Info: Fox Soccer Channel