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Group E

Steaua Bucharest coach Cosmin Olaroiu has described Tuesday’s visit of Real Madrid as a “great occasion for Steaua and for Romanian football”.

The sell-out match is predicted to draw the biggest television audience in the history of football in the country.

“We face one of the most powerful teams in the world,” Olaroiu said. “Even if they are not at their best, Real Madrid are still Real Madrid. We must give absolutely everything we can.”

After their 4-1 thrashing of Dynamo Kyiv last month, Steaua were brought back down to earth by Lyon three weeks ago with the French side cruising to a 3-0 win. Olaroiu expects a better performance from his players tonight.

“The match against Lyon showed us how we have to play,” Olaroiu said. “Hopefully we have learned something from that and we’ll be able to put on a show.”

Steaua will be without Vasilica Cristocea and Mihai Nesu, who join long term absentees Mirel Radoi and Victoras Iacob on the sidelines.

Injuries are also a concern for Real boss Fabio Capello. With José Antonio Reyes tearing a calf muscle on international duty, David Beckham is expected to make his 100th Champions League appearance. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Fabio Cannavaro are back from injury while Capello must decide whether to partner Ronaldo or Raúl, who is carrying a knock, with Ruud van Nistelrooy up front.

“The team just needs to work hard,” said Capello on the eve of the game. “If we can do that, we are good enough to win. Obviously this is not the Real Madrid I want. I will have to raise morale just as I did at the other clubs I have worked at.”

Probable teams
Carlos Alberto Fernandes; Stelian Stancu, Dorin Goian, Sorin Ghionea, Petre Marin; Banel Nicolita, Florin Lovin, Sorin Paraschiv, Gabriel Bostina; Nicolae Dica, Valentin Badea.
Iker Casillas; Álvaro Mejía, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos; David Beckham, Emerson, Mahamadou Diarra, Guti; Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo/Raúl González

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