CFR Cluj produced the shock of Matchday 1 when they defeated Roma 2-1 away from home, but they face a tough challenge tonight when they encounter last season’s losing finalists Chelsea.
“I hope we can surprise Chelsea,” said the side’s Italian coach Maurizio Trombetta, “but maybe it was easier to do so against Roma because no one expected it.”
“Chelsea are a very powerful side, full of stars,” added Trombetta. “But if we just think about them and our own limitations, we will lose before the game has started. That is not our philosophy. My players are extremely motivated and I just have to make sure the conditions are right so they can perform to the best of their ability.”
The Romanian champions have not enjoyed the best of starts to their title defence, although a 1-1 draw against fellow Champions League competitors FC Steaua Bucharest on Friday extended their unbeaten home record and brought them up to fifth in the table.
Trombetta has a full squad to choose from, with Sixto Peralta fit following an adductor strain. The Argentinian midfielder is expected to start on the bench as Trombetta keeps faith with the XI that won in Rome.
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is playing down his side’s apparent superiority.
“These days all teams know about their opponents, and their players are in good shape,” said the Brazilian, who will be without the injured Deco (hamstring), Michael Essien and Ricardo Carvalho (both knee).
“Cluj will be confident because they won in Rome. They also want to show the world that they are a big club. We have to treat them with respect. Cluj are thinking about going as far as they can in world football and if they keep improving as they are, they will be a team we come to know for many years.
“If [CFR Cluj] beat us it will not be a surprise. It will be because they are better on the day.”