CFR Cluj make the trip to the Sinobo Stadium on Wednesday as the take on Slavia Prague at their home ground, with kick off set for 8pm. Prior to this two-legged affair, the pair met in 2010 during the summer as this week’s hosts ran out 2-4 victors. It’s very different this time though with Champions League football on the cards, and CFR Cluj know they’ll need to score at least once to advance.
Slavia Prague entered the Champions League qualifiers for the first time at this stage, which is in contrast to their opponents who’ve been competing since the first round of the tournament. Following a tight 1-0 win over Slovan Liberec, Slavia Prague then defeated SK Dynamo Ceske Budejovice by three goals to nil which put them in good stead ahead of the first leg that took place last Tuesday. On that occasion it was Lukas Masopust who struck the crucial goal with under half an hour played, and more recently there were four different scorers as they put Bohemians 1905 to the sword in resounding fashion.
CFR Cluj eliminated Celtic from the Champions League in what was a fascinating 180 minutes, with the eventual aggregate scoreline reading 4-5 in their favour. They struggled a little afterwards, with a 1-1 stalemate coming away from home versus Sepsi OSK four days later, which was succeeded by a defeat versus Slavia Prague to put them one goal behind in the tie. Cluj were back on the winning trail again at the weekend though, running out 4-1 victors over Botosani thanks to a brace from Ciprian Ioan Deac, as well as Michael Pereira and Constantin Paun-Alexandru getting amongst the goals.
Slavia Prague have been in excellent form as of late, winning each of their last four games on the bounce and scoring for fun at times. With eight goals in their last three outings, they’re likely to score a few more here. The home side have not conceded in five games either, while Cluj failed to break them down on home soil.
Slavia Prague have been the only team to score in five of their last six games, with more than two netted in two of their last three, including eight during that time. Cluj are unlikely to score here, and with a defence that’s looked dodgy at times – conceding in each of their last eight games – goals should flow once the first arrives.
Slavia Prague have scored in each of their last four home games.
Three of Cluj’s last five games have had over three goals.
Slavia Prague have kept a clean sheet in each of their games since July.
Slavia Prague look set to have everyone fit for this one with no injury worries to note. Josef Husbauer and Nicolae Stanciu are the leading scorers for their side in the league so far with three each, but neither have found the net in the qualification phase for Europe’s top tournament just yet, so they’ll both be looking to change that come Wednesday night.
It’s positive news on the injury front for Cluj too, with no injury concerns hampering their preparation for this crucial match. Ciprian Ioan Deac has been phenomenal for the team thus far, netting five times in three league appearances and contributing to seven goals in his last five outings for his side. Paun-Alexander is still looking for his first goal in Europe, and with three assists and four goals domestically he will be confident of getting one here should he start.