Good evening and welcome to the live commentary of the Champions League
clash between Steaua Bucuresti
Both sides are looking to get their campaigns in Europe on track this evening as Steaua are still looking for their first win in Group E as a late goal from Giovanni Sio cost them the victory in their 1-1 draw with Basel last time out.
Meanwhile, Schalke will be hopeful for a response from their back-to-back defeats to Chelsea which have seen them slip from the top of the group into second place on six points. A result in this game is crucial ahead of their final showdown with Basel with the second qualification place on the line.
Since their 1-1 draw with Basel, Steaua have been in action just once in the past three weeks. They drew 1-1 with Pandurii Targu Jiu in the Liga 1 in Romania last Saturday, so they should be quite fresh coming into today's game although match sharpness could be an issue.
Schalke meanwhile have played twice in the Bundesliga since their 3-0 defeat to Chelsea last time out in the Champions League. They rebounded somewhat with a commanding 3-1 victory over Werder Bremen but drew at the weekend with Eintracht Frankfurt in an entertaining 3-3 clash.
The teams have been announced and we'll start with the home side.
STEAUA STARTING XI: Tatarusanu, Szukala, Gardos, Latolevici, Chipciu, Tanase, Prepelita, Neagu, Bourceanu, Popa, Piovaccari
SCHALKE STARTING XI: Fahrmann, Howedes, Felipe Santana, Uchida, Fuchs, Meyer, Jones, Aogo, Neustadter, Farfan, Szalai
Laurentiu Reghecampf has made three changes to his side that drew on Saturday to face the Bundesliga team this evening. Chipciu, Neagu and Piovaccari come into the side and replace Kapetanos, Stanciu and Georgevski.
Jens Keller has made five changes to his side that drew 3-3 with Frankfurt on Saturday. He is without Timo Hildebrand due to a hip injury so Ralf Fahrmann starts in goal, Julian Draxler misses out and is on the bench, while Kevin-Prince Boateng is out completely. Joel Matip and Sead Kolasinac make up the five. Replacing them is Felipe Santana, Adam Szalai, Christian Fuchs and Roman Neustadter.
STEAUA SUBSTITUTES: Nita, Georgevski, Varela, Cristea, Stanciu, Iancu, Kapetanos
SCHALKE SUBSTITUTES: Unnerstall, Hoogland, Matip, Kolasinac, Draxler, Ahyan, Obassi
In the first meeting between these sides, Schalke ran out 3-0 winners after scoring all of their goals in the second half through Uchida, Boateng and Draxler. Steaua looked good for the first 45 minutes of the game and will be hopeful of making this game more of an even contest.
Quick note on Steaua's home form. They've been beaten just once at the Arena Nationala this season and that was a heavy one as Chelsea hammered them 4-0. On the whole though, they've been good.
The players are making their way onto the pitch and we should be underway shortly.
We're underway in this Group E clash.
A poor clearance from Fahrmann almost gives the home side an early opportunity but fortunately for the visitors the ball doesn't quite fall for Piovaccari but Tanase lobs a ball forward for Popa to chase in the area but the keeper gathers.
Steady start from the home side as they enjoy a lengthy spell of possession passing along their backline and into the midfield. They can't get any further though as they are pressed by the German side as they enter their half of the field.
Piovaccari does well to get down the bye-line on the left and whips a dangerous cross into the middle but there's no player in red and blue in the area and Aogo lets the ball go out for a corner under slight pressure from Popa.
It's snowing in the Arena Nationala and that may make passing the ball a bit tricky in the slightly slippy conditions.
Popa gets played down the right with a good ball from Prepelita and he gets past the initial challenge of Aogo and tries to drill a low cross into the area from the bye-line but Howedes comes cross and blocks the ball out for a corner.
From the resulting corner a big header from Santana gets the ball clear with ease alleviating the pressure on the German side.
Farfan receives the ball down the left and makes a surging run to force a corner off Prepelita. He takes the corner himself and Gardos can only head the ball behind, allowing the midfielder to whip another dangerous corner to the front post this time but Chipciu gets a good header on the cross to clear.
Meyer raids forward for the visitors and gets space inside the box and tries to fire an effort at goal from the inside left channel but his shot is blocked but Aogo follows up but he fires his shot wide.
Prepelita lifts a long ball over the top of the Schalke defence from deep and Piovaccari chases it down, Fahrmann rushes out to get to the ball but gets nowhere near it and the striker lifts an effort over the keeper but it lands on the top of the net.
Another spell of pressure from the visitors as they force a corner and again Farfan drills his cross to the near post but Gardos clears but only as far as Aogo on the left who tries a cross but the home side are able to clear their lines.
Farfan receives the ball down the left again and speeds past his man and drills a low cross to the near post but Tatarusanu is there to gather the ball at the feet of Szalai.
Tanase finds himself in all kinds of space in midfield in the Schalke half after Bourceanu picked him out with a through ball, he tries to sprint towards the box but is dispossessed by a brilliant sliding tackle from Jones, who wins the ball with ease.
Uchida raids down the right from full back and drifts pass one man and fires a low cross into the area, Szukala half clears the ball but only into the path of Neustadter who shoots but his effort is blocked by the defender and comes back out to Jones, whose shot is gathered by Tatarusanu.
The snow is really falling now and making playing conditions really difficult for the players out there.
CHANCE! Farfan misses a glorious chance to give his side the lead as Szalai digs out a cross on the left and Farfan races across his man in the middle and pokes an effort at goal but he makes too much contact with the ball and his shot goes over the bar. A great opportunity spurned.
CHANCE! Steaua's turn to go close and Bourceanu lifts a free kick into the area and Gardos heads the ball back into the middle of the box and Piovaccari tries an overhead kick and makes good contact and it heads towards the corner but Fahrmann makes an excellent save to keep it out.
NO GOAL! Schalke think they've taken the lead as Fuchs turns Farfan's cross into the net from close range but the referee correctly rules it out as the ball had crossed the dead-ball line before Farfan crossed the into the area. A great decision by the referee.
Schalke get the chance to threaten again immediately as Fuchs is brought down just outside the area by Prepelita and Farfan will take the free kick.
Farfan fires the free kick at goal but his shot sails just over the bar and Tatarusanu looked to have his angles covered anyway.
An error from Gardos puts his side under pressure as he puts the ball behind from a corner for no apparent reason but he gets away with his error as Aogo's cross is cleared at the second attempt. The defender tries a shot at goal from the clearance but it's blocked and this time the home side hack the ball away properly.
Tanase finds space down the right on a counterattack for the home side ad Piovaccari races towards the middle expecting a cross, the winger hits his ball in early but his delivery lands straight into the hands of Fahrmann. A really poor cross.
After a difficult 15 minutes or so the home side are starting to get back into the game with some solid passing and ball retention, keeping it away from the visitors.
YELLOW CARD! We have our first booking of the game as Neustadter is carded for a cynical foul on Popa.
Gardos runs with the ball all the way from the back and somehow gets into the penalty area, he tries to offload to Piovaccari but he is crowded out by a good tackle from Jones and Howedes who manage to win the ball at the crucial moment.
The home side looked to be ending the half on a positive note as they keep the ball in a dangerous area of the field but can't produce anything to force Fahrmann into action again.
HALF-TIME: Steaua 0-0 Schalke
A game of few chances so far this evening as neither side have created a great deal in the first half at the Arena Nationala.
Schalke have been the better of the two sides and they did have the ball in the net only to see the effort ruled out after Farfan's cross had gone out just before Fuchs turned the ball into the net. Other than that the Steaua defence has been a wall and have made several good blocked for the German's side's shots from distance.
Steaua had perhaps the best chance of the half when Piovaccari was denied by Fahrmann as his fantastic overhead kick that was creeping into the bottom corner was turned away by the keeper. Other than they haven't created a thing despite being in some decent areas with the ball. They need to work on their quality in the final third of the pitch.
The players are back out on the pitch and we should be underway shortly.
We're back underway in this Group E clash.
Tanase gets forward for the home side and lifts a cross into the area and Neustadter tries to clear the ball but he scuffs his effort but fortunately for him there's no player in red and blue around to take advantage of his error and he manages to hook it clear on the second attempt.
Farfan tries a move down the left and speeds past his man and tries to find Szalai in the middle but his low cross is well blocked by Szukala who slides across to gets his body in the way of the ball.
PENALTY SHOUT! Farfan lifts a cross to the back post looking for the run of Howedes who goes down under the challenge of Latovlevici but the referee points for goal kick much to the bemusement of the Schalke skipper.
Bourceanu and Chipciu almost link up inside the penalty area as the home side's skipper tries to thread a through ball for his teammate but Howedes is there to make a crucial interception.
Steaua press and Piovaccari is put through on goal by Latovlevici as he slides a pass down the sideline and all the Schalke players stop expecting a flag that doesn't come at first but as soon as the striker bears down on goal the linesman raises it.
CHANCE! Popa lifts a lofted a pass into the path of Piovaccari who does brilliantly to flick the ball into the box and Chipciu makes a surging run from deep to get into the area, he tries to shoot but Fahrman rushes out and holds him up he knocks the ball past him, but Santana nips in for the visitors to clear the danger.
SAVE! Latovlevici whips a cross in from the right and his cross curls towards goal and Szukala gets up highest in the area to flick it on and his effort is on target by Fahrmann gets up and tips the ball over the bar, with his fingertips.
CHANCE! Meyer has a chance from distance which is deflected behind for a corner. Farfan takes the corner and his delivery is good and Jones rises highest in the area to head at goal but his effort trickles past the post and out for a goal kick.
A flurry of chances at either end but we're still goalless at the Arena Nationala as both teams failed to take the opportunities on offer. Story of the game so far.
PENALTY SHOUT! Popa delivers a high cross into the area looking for Piovaccari and he goes up to head the ball but Fahrmann comes rushing out looking to punch it clear but he gets nowhere near the ball and punches the striker straight in the face but the referee points for a corner rather than to the spot. That was very dangerous from the keeper.
CHANCE! Popa whips the corner into the near post and Szukala races onto the ball but he fires his shot over the bar from close range. What a chance that was.
CHANCE! Aogo races down the left for the visitors and digs out a cross to the back post, Farfan heads it back in the direction of Jones, who is presented with a great opportunity to fire at goal but he slips at the crucial moment and Steaua clear.
SUBSTITUTION: A change for Schalke as Draxler enters the fray and replaces Meyer.
The home side win a free kick in a dangerous area of the field as Jones goes into the book for a late challenge on Prepelita and Tanase stands over the ball.
CHANCE! Tanase drills his free kick at goal but his shot sails just wide of the post with Fahrmann scrambling.
Schalke respond with a free kick of their own as Aogo lifts a cross into the area but Szalai heads his effort well over the bar without troubling Tatarusanu.
Schalke win another free kick this time on the left and Farfan stands over the ball from about 35 yards out.
CHANCE! Farfan whips his free kick into the area with pace and Szalai gets up well in the area again and powers a header at goal but his effort trickles just past the post.
CHANCE! Steaua have an excellent chance to hit the visitors on the break as Piovaccari wins a header to put Popa clear, the midfielder cuts back and releases Stanciu who surges past him. He then tries to lob Fahrmann but he makes the grab to save the ball. A poor decision by Stanciu there.
Schalke work the ball well down the right and it comes to Szalai 18 yards out but his effort is tame and Tatarasanu saves the ball with ease.
CHANCE! A long ball over the top forces Fahrmann out of his goal to try and clear the ball but he scuffs his clearance and Steaua try to win it with him out of his net but Piovaccari goes in too vigorously with Howedes and the referee blows for a free kick. A lucky escape for the keeper.
CHANCE! Fuchs threads a through ball into the path of Draxler who squares the ball for Szalai who tries to shoot but he can't get an effort away at an open goal and then falls to the ground looking for penalty but the referee waves play on.
CHANCE! Steaua should be ahead late in the game as Tanase does extremely well to find space on the left, he then fires a pinpoint cross into the middle right onto the head of Piovaccari six yards out but he can only head the ball straight at Fahrmann. What a miss!
There will be three minutes of added time.
Steaua get one last chance to put bodies in the box with a free kick and Stanciu lifts the ball into the area but Fahrmann gathers the ball on the second attempt and that could be that.
Farfan has the chance to win the game for the visitors but he drills his shot from distance straight at Tatarusanu. The finishing in this game has been very poor.
FULL-TIME: Steaua Bucuresti 0-0 Schalke 04
It ends goalless at the Arena Nationala and that ends Steaua's hopes of qualifying for the next round of the competition as Basel beat Chelsea in the other Group E match this evening.
The quality in front of goal was lacking from both sides as they created openings but on several occasions were not able to finish them off, that is one of the reasons why Steaua are going out. Schalke will now go into a showdown for the final qualification place with Basel in the next round of fixtures.
Thanks for joining our commentary this evening. Be sure to join us tomorrow for the rest of the Champions League action. Until then, goodbye.