One game played so far, excellent results for both teams. Steaua managed to come back from 0-1, away, at Universitatea Cluj, while Craiova was unlucky to get just one point at home, against the reigning champions from CFR Cluj. Morale is excellent for both sides, expectations are high – the game looks unpredictable. Still, there are facts that should help an experienced player make an “inspired” pick for tonight’s match:
- Steaua will be playing in front of a full house, all the 25.000 tickets have been sold, the home team will count on an intimidating crowd indeed, after a long period of conflicts between the fans and the club’s owner. Keep in mind that Universitatea has one of the youngest teams in the league, but also that the pressure could also get to Steaua’s players (a lot of new faces).
- Steaua’s first game was based on ball possession, while Craiova was the outsider against CFR, so we can expect pretty much the same approach tonight. The guests will rely on their defense, which looks weak on the left flank – a natural centre-back, Ciuca, is used as a left back – but managed to keep at bay CFR’s impressive strike force, the champion club failing to send 1 (one) shot on goal in 90 minutes! The counters will try to speculate Costea’s pace (lacks composure, so he can waste even 1-v-1 situations) , but I expect Piturca to block the man with the decisive pass, the Bulgarian Gargorov, who was a complete unknown for CFR.
- Craiova doesn’t have a natural left winger, which is good news for Steaua’s manager, unhappy with his right back’s performance in the first game. Steaua’s full backs should have a lot of freedom to push forward, while the four creative midfielders will test to the max the defensive ability and stamina of Craiova’s two defensive midfielders, Barboianu and Dilevski. Both have a tendency to dive into tackles, yellow cards are almost guaranteed.
- Steaua’s lone striker, Bogdan Stancu, scored the winner in the first official game, but all the attacking players have good morale and come from convincing performances.
- Steaua – Universitatea Craiova are usually tensed matches, so I expect a few tough challenges and full determination from everyone involved.
- The match starts at 19.00 CET and will be broadcasted live by DigiSport.
Name: Mihai Pintilii
Position: central defender
Height/Weight: 181 cm/75 kg
Club: Pandurii Targu Jiu
Left Jiul Petrosani on a free transfer in January and made an instant impact at International Curtea de Arges, where he collected 11 appearances in the top flight, finishing his first half of season at this level as the team’s captain. Now, he moved alongside his coach and colleagues from International to Pandurii, where he offered an excellent display in the first round of the season, against Unirea Urziceni. In spite of his small size for a centre-back, Pintilii managed to contain Unirea’s top centre-forward, Bilasco, an outstanding player in the air and a key man in Levy’s tactical plans. Pintilii was focused, quick, aggressive when required and outplayed Bilasco with his excellent anticipation, controlling his opponent on the chest and coming out for the ball at the right moment, with impressive efficiency. On top of that, he had to sweep several loose balls and generally had a lot of work, considering the poor displays from his partner Ousmane Viera and especially the highly-rated-for-no-reason left back, Cardoso. Looked a lot like Steaua’s former captain, Mirel Radoi, and I recall Pintilii being offered to Steaua a few years ago, but, at that time, the Bucharest side had players like Radoi, Ghionea or Goian in the team and the centre back had to return in the second division.
Coming form behind for a 2-1 away win in the first round was a nice feat, but Steaua’s manager ignored everyone’s enthusiasm and kept on working on a team that needs time and patience to gel, but also more names on some positions, in order to sustain a successful campaign.
Yesterday morning, Piturca made a surprising signing, ClaudiuVoiculet, a small midfielder who played last season for International Curtea de Arges, but didn’t move to Pandurii alongside his former coach and teammates and was still looking for a team. Versatile, two footed player, quick and hard working, the 25 years old looks like a backup solution, but the length of his deal (three years) could mean that Piturca might think otherwise. Steaua paid around 300.000 Euros and International’s owner, Benone Lazar, will also get a percentage from the midfielder’s next transfer fee.
Yesterday evening, right before FC Timisoara’s debut in Europa League, aganst MyPa, the club’s owner announced the coach that he should not start, nor use the Brazilian right back, Eder Bonfim. The defender had been sold to Steaua, who wanted to count on Bonfim for its first European game of the season. The 29 years old required a 400.000 Euros investment and could be offered the chance to start right away, as the Bulgarian Todorov struggles to adapt, while the Nigerian Emeghara played poorly in the first round.
With these two moves, Steaua gains more depth, but didn’t find a decisive, important player. Still, it will be very important if Piturca uses the same strategy in adding one more name to his attacking options, as he relies currently only on Bogdan Stancu and Pantelis Kapetanos for the lone striker’s role, with Romeo Surdu way below Steaua’s demands, in my opinion.
Lazio offered 3 million Euros for Gabriel Torje. Dinamo will soon regret the decision to turn it down
Dinamo’s officials stated that a written offer has arrived from Lazio, a bigger one than the initial 2 million Euros, but, as I was saying earlier, the Red Dogs expect at least 4 million Euros. Of course, to get that kind of money, they’ve asked Lazio for 5 :-)
In my opinion, the Bucharest side will not get more than the current offer, especially now when the interest from Borussia Dortmund has cooled down and there isn’t a sign of competition for the player’s signature. Torje isn’t worth it and the ways he could increase his market value are limited: an excellent season with Dinamo (possible), moving from the U21 to the senior national team (not likely, Lucescu will give credit to Mihai Roman), playing Champions League football with Dinamo next season (improbable and he’ll need at least one and a half years for that!). My point is: Dinamo made a poor deal, paying 2 million Euros for 50% of the player’s transfer rights and they’ll never get their money back, that’s why the idea of making a profit out of it seems to be unrealistic. I would have accepted the money and only tried to negotiate a percentage of the player’s next transfer, considering his just 21 and the move to Serie A alone should increase the player’s market value, which could have covered the club’s losses and even kept a small chance to make some profit in two or three years time.
Sportul Studentesc – Otelul Galati 0-1 (Iorga 4)
Pandurii Targu Jiu – Unirea Urziceni 0-0
Rapid Bucharest – FC Vaslui 2-0 (Herea 28, Cesinha 81)
Universitatea Craiova – CFR Cluj 0-0
FC Timisoara – Gloria Bistrita 2-2 (Goga 10, Magera 73 / Muresan 19, Coroian 69)
Universitatea Cluj – Steaua Bucharest 1-2 (Niculescu 8 / D. Stoica 45, B. Stancu 73)
Astra Ploiesti – Dinamo Bucharest 1-2 (Lukacs 34 / N’Doye 78, Ad. Cristea 90)
FCM Targu Mures – FC Brasov 0-1 (V. Badea 68)
Victoria Branesti – Gaz Metan Medias 2-3 (Olariu 39, B. Oprea 90 / Eric 21, 75, R. Zaharia 28)
Next round (30th of July – 2nd of August): Otelul Galati – Pandurii Targu Jiu, FC Vaslui – FCM Targu Mures, Gloria Bistrita – Astra Ploiesti, Steaua – Universitatea Craiova, Unirea Urziceni – Rapid, Gaz Metan Medias – FC Timisoara, FC Brasov – Universitatea Cluj, Dinamo – Sportul Studentesc, CFR Cluj – Victoria Branesti.
As my friends from Twitter (rbaicu) already heard, Ionel Danciulescu signed a two years long deal with Dinamo, after a surprising release from Hercules. “Danciu-goal” refused a very tempting offer from the newly promoted club FCM Targu Mures, who offered a fabulous 250.000 Euros per year plus 70.000 Euros upfront, hoping to catch one more European adventure with the Red Dogs, before ending an oustanding career in Liga I.
With him in the squad, Dinamo has to options: either loan once again one of their young forwards, Liviu Ganea or Georgian Paun (this one has the biggest chances), or sell one of the big names: Andrei Cristea or Marius Niculae. With Cristea too expensive at 1,5 million Euros for interested clubs, like Newcastle or Brescia, Dinamo could be tempted to accept Karabukspor’s 500.000 Euros for Niculae, who is also one of the highest earners at the Bucharest side and has been looking for his best form for the past year, without any luck.