Chelsea managed to pull off a late draw with Sparta advancing them to the Europa League round of 16. Hazard scored a wicked equalizer saving the Blues’blushes. The Stamford Bridge team missed a lot of opportunities especially guilty was Torres who is not coming close to the standards he set on Merseyside. It was a hard game for the English side, especially considering the fact that Benitez rested the in-form Lampard, the tricky Hazard and the dependable Ivanovic preparing for the match against Manchester City. After last Thursday night’s result, Chelsea are drawn to face Steaua Bucharest who managed to eliminate one of the favorites, Ajax on penalties.
The Blues are in for a tough match against the Romanians who played a great match against Ajax. They dominated the first half and showed great quality. They looked to be more motivated and in better shape than the Dutch. They missed some great opportunities with some players really standing out. After their two nil loss in the Amsterdam Arena, few thought that Chelsea would end up facing Steaua, but after seeing last night’s match it was not such a surprise. Chelsea now need to prepare for a tough confrontation with a team that is very well balanced and has a lot of good players such as Chipciu and Chirices, who scored an amazing goal last night and managed an assist too.
Chelsea’s first match against the Romanians will take place on the 7th of March. The return will take place a week later at Stamford Bridge. Steaua will have a small advantage against the Blues considering the fact that the English side have a busy domestic schedule and will have to play on the 2nd, 10th and 16th of March against West Brom, Fulham and West Ham.
The Blues will probably have to prioritize between competitions as the schedule will be tiring. They will most likely use two different teams and focus on the Premier League clashes trying to ensure qualification to next year’s Champions League, which has always been an imperative objective for Chelsea.
Steaua are also focusing on the Championship qualification games but their position as their domestic league leaders offers them the chance to put more effort into preparing for the Europa League matches. Their objective is to win the trophy, so Chelsea is in for a tough time. The Blues are the obvious favorites, but after last night’s match, Steaua’s chances have also significantly improved.