After tonight’s brace (the third of the season) from the mad draw against Unirea Urziceni, Andrei Cristea joins Steaua’s Pantelis Kapetanos at the top of the best scorers’ list in Liga I, with 12 goals each. Cristea, a former Steaua forward, who’s best moment of his career was a brace against Valencia, is having an outstanding 2010 so far, with 7 goals scored in 6 matches, a record that allowed him to overcome Timisoara’s Dorin Goga and Astra’s Liviu Ganea and put under pressure Steaua’s Pantelis Kapetanos.
Anyway, the “golden boot” has now four serious and gifted pretenders:
- Pantelis KAPETANOS (Steaua, 27 years old, 12 goals) has consistency, physical strength, intelligence and a solid aerial game;
- Andrei CRISTEA (Dinamo, 26 years old, 12 goals) counts on athleticisim, technique and the mistakes resulted from his constant pressure on the opposition’s defenders;
- Liviu GANEA (Astra – on loan from Dinamo - 22 years old, 11 goals) lacks a quality team behind him, but can take full advantage of his pace in Astra’s counter-attacking style, enjoying freedom to shoot at will and an improved aerial presence;
- Dorin GOGA (FC Timisoara, 26 years old, 10 goals) has finally got the right partner – a solid centre forward – to take full advantage of his intelligent off the ball movement, creativity and skill.
Unhappy with their current status, Dinamo’s Cristian Daminuta and Rapid’s Vladimir Bozovic asked their agents to start looking for interested teams. Daminuta, who came on loan from Inter’s Primavera, featured only a couple of minutes so far and is anger that even now, when several regular defenders are missing, he’s not being offered the chance to impress and convince the club to activate the buying clause and make the deal permanent. Bozovic, on the other hand, is frustrated at losing his place in the starting eleven, after the arrival of Diego Ciz, who played regularly at left back, locking the Montenegro left wing back out of the team. In the summer, Bozovic will enter the final year of his deal with the Bucharest side.
- Gaz Metan Medias – Otelul Galati 0-1 (Costin 36)
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – Steaua 0-0
- Unirea Alba Iulia – Astra Ploiesti 2-1 (Dalbea 17, Andre de Sousa 39 / Takayuki 29)
- Politehnica Iasi – International 0-0
- Rapid – Universitatea Craiova 0-1 (Gangioveanu 90)
- Gloria Bistrita – Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt 1-0 (C. Petre 20)
- Unirea Urziceni – Dinamo 4-4 (Onofras 1, Semedo 11, Bilasco 70 pen, 90 / B. Fernandes og 5, Andrei Cristea 8, 63, Torje 48)
- C Timisoara – FC Vaslui 0-1 (Costly 12)
- FC Brasov – CFR Cluj 0-1 (Bud 19)
Next round (2-3 April): Otelul Galati – Pandurii, Astra Ploiesti – Unirea Urziceni, Ceahlaul – Poli Iasi, Steaua – FC Brasov, Dinamo – Gaz Metan Medias, International Curtea de Arges – Rapid, Universitatea Craiova – FC Timisoara, FC Vaslui – Unirea Alba Iulia, CFR Cluj – Gloria Bistrita.
The Red Dogs lost another central defender for a long period of time, with Lucian Goian, who had to replace the injured Dragos Grigore, set to miss the rest of the season, after a hard contact with keeper Emanuel Dolha, during the cup match against CFR. Goian has damaged knee ligaments and coach Talnar has now two options for pairing up with Moti, in central defense: Cristian Daminuta (played only a couple of minutes for the first team) and the Czech Martin Zivny (who is yet to make his debut, playing four times for Dinamo II, in the second division). It’s a very difficult moment for the red and white outfit, coming exactly when the team was mounting a serious title challenge, after a poor first half of season. Ahead of the away game against Unirea Urziceni, scheduled on Sunday, Dinamo will surely miss Scarlatache (defender, suspended), Grigore, Goian (defenders, injured) and D. Kone (midfielder, suspended). Diabate (defender), Alexe (forward) and Marius Niculae (forward) are doubtful, but will have to make themselves available, as Niculescu and Bratu are completely out of form and useless. The good news is that top scorer Andrei Cristea is set to return from suspension, following the stupid red card received against Otelul Galati.
- Rapid – Universitatea Craiova could be the last game for Nicolae Manea as Rapid’s coach. Manea is determined to quit, unhappy that club owner George Copos made very public his search for another trainer, with Mircea Rednic and Ioan Andone asked in the past couple of weeks to take over and save the current season, by qualifying the team for Europa League. With 11 rounds to go, Rapid lies in 7th place, but is only three points away from a European spot and seven from league leaders, CFR Cluj. Read more…
- On Wednesday, Dinamo met CFR Cluj at home, on a pitch that favored the guests. For the first time since his arrival, Mandorlini sent on the pitch only one natural striker, Yssouf Kone, in a 4-1-4-1 formula that looked solid, but could have done more damage, with the right players. Nicolae Dica was a disgrace (central right midfielder), slow and always late both in attack and defense, while the Italian Bottone (right midfielder) was a joke. Piccolo did a better job in defense, but if this is what Italian players can offer to Romanian football, we’re definitely better off without them! Solid performance from Sixto Peralta – I cannot imagine how on earth he can be left on the bench, when fit! – who dictated the play in the centre of the park, well protected by Gabriel Muresan, deployed as anchorman, and another good display from the Brazilian left back Leonardo Veloso, who was on trial with Dinamo, but went on to sign for CFR. The game ended 1-1, Kone equalizing after Lucian Goian’s header, but it was a tight affair until the end, with both teams pushing for a win. The Red Dogs, though, were handicapped by the presence on the pitch of two strikers completely out of shape, Claudiu Niculescu and Florin Bratu, and suffered two more blows, defenders Ze Diabate and Lucian Goian badly injured during the first half.
- Strange approach from Marius Lacatus, who decided to rest several first team players in the first leg of the semifinal against FC Brasov! FC Brasov – FC Vaslui ended 1-0, but I wonder why “The Beast” was thinking of the Monday match vs. Timisoara, when he was just two steps away from the final, three steps away from a trophy and guaranteed place in Europe next season! Anyway, the hosts deserved their win, finally looking like the team from last year, organized and hard working. Solid performance from Savic, who slowly won his place in the first eleven, offering an excellent assist from the left, converted by the 36 years old captain, Robert Ilyes. For Vaslui, the Brazilian Gladstone confirmed that he’s got some class, but Porumboiu’s collection of talented individuals is still far from working as an unit, with the brothers Dinu and (especially) Lucian Sanmartean looking poor, the Spaniard Delgado inconsistent, relying on the creativity and constant threat represented by Wesley…
- Ceahlaul – FC Brasov 2-1 (Mulisa 16, Cebotaru 24 / Savic 23)
- CFR Cluj – Pandurii Targu Jiu 1-0 (Hugo Alcantara 25)
- Universitatea Craiova – Politehnica Iasi 2-1 (Iliev 62, Prepelita 89 / Straton 85)
- Otelul Galati – Dinamo 2-3 (G. Paraschiv 50, Antal 61 pen / Moti 6, Alexe 20, Andrei Cristea 54 pen)
- International – Gloria Bistrita 2-1 (E. Kone 31, Bacila 57 / Ribeiro Moraes 69)
- Steaua – Gaz Metan Medias 2-0 (B. Stancu 63, Kapetanos 79 pen)
- Unirea Alba Iulia – Unirea Urziceni 1-2 (Bucurica 39 / Brandan 47, Onofras 53)
- Astra Ploiesti – FC Timisoara 1-3 (L. Ganea 19 / Magera 3, Goga 11 pen, 88)
- FC Vaslui – Rapid 1-0 (Papp 6)
Round 24 (26-29 March): Gaz Metan Medias – Otelul Galati, Pandurii – Steaua, Unirea Alba Iulia – Astra Ploiesti, Politehnica Iasi – International Curtea de Arges, Rapid Bucharest – Universitatea Craiova, Gloria Bistrita – Ceahlaul, Unirea Urziceni – Dinamo, FC Timisoara – FC Vaslui, FC Brasov – CFR Cluj.
The idea belongs to former Barcelona skipper Gheorghe “Gica” Popescu, who gathered most of his colleagues from the national team that impressed at the American World Cup, in 1994, and proposed over lunch to make a final appearance as a group. The event should close the “Champions’ night” campaign initiated a few years ago by Popescu, which brought in Romania, among others, Brazil’s national team, for charity purposes. Gheorghe Hagi, Adrian Ilie, Bogdan Stelea, Tibor Selymes, Daniel Prodan, Ilie Dumitrescu and Ionut Lupescu were present and agreed to take part to a farewell match that will take place in Timisoara, in May. The choice is fully justified – although it’s quite far from me :-( -, as Timisoara has the most passionate and civilized crowd in the whole country and probably the opposition will be top class, as every former national team player will try to bring quality players.