FC Timisoara’s tactics against Manchester City. My pleasure, Roberto!
Timisoara snatched a point on Sunday evening in the dying moments of the away game at Universitatea Craiova, thanks to Ianis Zicu, and it’s pretty clear who are the 13-14 players that will have the honor to fight with the Citizens, hoping to produce another European miracle.
Yesterday, it became clear that Vladimir Petrovic realized that his plans to build an offensive team need to be adjusted, that his eleven needs balance, otherwise it will be severely punished, just like it happened in the very dubious first half against MyPa, when his back four was so exposed that the hosts were 3-0 up after 45 minutes. The key to Timisoara’s spectacular return was Alexandru Bourceanu, a central midfielder nicknamed Gattuso, whose impressive work-rate is vital in covering the spaces, breaking up attacks and linking up the play. He was among the starters in the impressive 3-2 win against CFR Cluj, as well as in last evening’s game, and the Viola were punished only after a childish mistake from Srdjan Luchin. Universitatea struggled to create chances, while at the other end the 20.000 fans withnessed as much as four dangerous shots in the space of two minutes, in one of Timisoara’s raids forward. Ok, the “drawing” goal came very late and based on some hazard and the hosts’ lack of experience, but this was the fourth time in as many league games when Timisoara managed to come back from one or two goals down to earn a positive result! It shows that there are problems at the back which cannot be adressed just yet with the current defenders available, but also the mental strength and the offensive weapons to have the last word(s) on the pitch. That’s why, although I’m quite sure who’s going to start on Thursday evening, against Manchester City, it’s possible that Petrovic will shuffle his best cards, in order to find not the best team, but the right approach:
Playing it as safe as possible:
In this case, Petrovic won’t keep his promise, but I guess he doesn’t have suicidal tendencies and has at least heard of his team’s feat against Shakthar Donetsk, who had arrived in Timisoara as the last winner of the Europa League and found themselves knocked out by a stubborn, very defensive team. In this case, the veteran Cosmin Contra should come handy in a midfield that already has an experienced anchorman, the captain Dan Alexa, and a fierce pittbull – Bourceanu. Scutaru, who’s a natural centre back and was used to give a hand in midfield, on occasion, should continue at right back, where he’s doing a fine job so far. We should also see the huge Magera dropping down in midfield, while the left winger – who should be watched when Timisoara will start a counter – will also have to track back, when defending. That’s why his name could be Curtean, in spite of the quality strikes provided by Zicu in his first and last matches for the club. I’m not sure though that sitting back and praying for a miracle would be the best idea, though: 1. City struggled against Tottenham (don’t even think that I’m comparing teams now!) because they were held under siege for most of the game and weren’t allowed to play (not that Mancini went there to try something like that!). 2. Timisoara shouldn’t dare to think of a goalless draw after the recent stupid mistakes from Sepsi or Luchin. 3. Even such a massive result wouldn’t mean anything, thinking of the second leg to be played in Manchester.
Ideal formation, for those who dare to dream:
Judging on the coach’s preferred formation and the players’ recent form, this would be the ideal first eleven that could face Manchester City and try to produce one of the competition’s biggest surprises. At the back, there’s not much to be done, but Contra should play ahead of Scutaru even if he’s not fit, too nervous and aggressive and a bit out of form. The experience, leadership and an important career in this position should prevail in a duel with his younger colleague, who’s been a rotation player in his best season so far and used more in a central position, either in defense or midfield. I would have dropped Alexa two years ago, as Bourceanu’s covering his ass, while doing his own impressive, generous work on the pitch, but we’re still speaking of the team’s captain… Upfront, it seems that Petrovic likes Magera’s vision too much to leave him in his natural centre-forward role, so we’re stuck with this big guy as a central attacking midfielder, while the presence of both Curtean and Zicu on the pitch at the same time (as well as Goga’s – a player of a natural and rare talent – absence from this team) can be explained by the good recent form showed by the two wingers and the fact that Curtean is right footed, so he could easily be moved on the right, where Goga had to adjust his game a lot, being somewhere between a nine and a half and a natural ten, depending on his inspiration. An attacking team, one that could be seen if things go as bad as everyone expects right from the first game, in Timisoara. One that could show as a poor Romanian club comparing with one of England’s top teams, but also the most beautiful crowd that can be seen in this part of the world. Who knows, maybe these guys could really turn Bourceanu into Gattuso and make Yaya Toure sweat for his weekly wage. Which, by the way, is probably bigger than Bourceanu’s yearly salary.