Not a single surprising result was recorded in midweek, when 16 teams fought for a place in the quarter finals of the Romanian Cup, a trophy ignorred in recent years especially by the Bucharest sides, although they weren’t very succesful in the league either… Still, there was some serious struggle for big clubs like Steaua, Poli Timisoara and CFR Cluj, with the single praise-worthy performance coming from Universitatea Craiova, who won on a very difficult ground, showing determination and fielding players that were enjoying their chance to play attacking football.
- FC Brasov – Universitatea Cluj 2-1 (Chipciu 5, V. Badea 86 / Lemnaru 52)
- Poli Timisoara – Vointa Sibiu (2nd division) 1-1, 4-3 on penalties (Goga 13 / Bunea 87)
- Dinamo – ALRO Slatina (2nd division) 3-1 (M. Niculae 2, Alexe 8, 30 / Barsan 38)
- Gloria Bistrita – Unirea Urziceni 1-0 (Bruno Moraes 67)
- CFR Cluj – FCM Targu Mures 2-0 (Bjelanovic 32, Sforzini 90)
- Steaua – Sportul Studentesc 1-1, 3-1 on penalties (T. Balan 19 / Latovlevici 72)
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – Universitatea Craiova 0-2 (Wobay 33, Prepelita 54)
- Astra Ploiesti – Rapid 0-0, 0-2 aet (Frunza 93, 111)
- Victoria Branesti – FC Brasov 1-1 (Olariu 63 pen / Cristescu 71)
A fifth penalty in twelve rounds (not a bad ratio, but there’s no surprise, as the refs did help this team achieve promotion!) allowed Victoria take a lead against another struggling team, but Brasov showed strength and came back to claim a very important point in what promises to be a long relegation battle. Victoria remains an interesting team, pretty well organized, while Brasov deserves credit for every positive result, given the quality of the roster availble, after the incredible exodus that took place during the summer. Read more…
Second place in the league, impressive displays especially at home, biggest chances to win the league according to the bookies. This is Rapid? Well, yes, but not exactly. The club’s problems are bigger than the lack of consistency when playing away, the poor quality of their strikers or the increasing tensions from a dressing room full of players who (think thay they) deserve a place in the first eleven, especially in goal. They surfaced in the press this morning and speak not only of the already mentioned financial troubles, but also of some poor management from the board and a lack of professionalism that had been experienced in the past, at Rapid.
Here’s the list of problems that could affect the team’s performances and results sooner or later:
- the players haven’t been payed for more than two months and were hoping to see some cash after last round’s away win at Sportul; instead, they got yet another promise that this will happen after the derby against Steaua. Which is scheduled almost two weeks from now.
- Brazilian striker Cassio Vargas and the team’s second scorer this season was thrown out of his appartment, as the club failed to pay the rent since August. He was moved with his wife and two kids to another flat, close to his team mates Rui Duarte, Ezequias, Marcos Antonio and Bozovic, where he should follow Rui Duarte’s example, who didn’t wait for the club to pay the rent, as he would have found himself in the same delicate situation as the striker…
- The Portuguese Candido da Costa had the surprise to find his appartment without gas and electricity, problems that angered so much Vladimir Bozovic last season that the Montenegro international left Bucharest and threatened not to return at the club.
“I have to feed my family. I was supposed to send money back home, to Portugal, but I haven’t done that for the past two and a half months” – Rui Duarte, Portuguese full back, bought from FC Brasov this summer
As this is no premiere, Rapid should look beyond the expected financial trouble, which affects pretty much every Liga I club this season, and realize that there’s something wrong in the structure and the work of what was supposed to be one of the best organized professional clubs in Romania. The club’s owner, George Copos, loves to point to the board lead by Dinu Gheorghe everytime something goes bad and has a habit of complaining about the difficulties of running a club these days. Still, he was the one to accept in the first place last summer’s overspending and he was the one to jump for joy at Rapid’s wonderful displays from the start of the season. Staying on the sidelines and waiting for your employees to fail just to say “I told you so” at one point doesn’t look very smart to me. In fact, makes Rapid look like a ticking bomb, watched carefully by a sadistic, self-destructive owner…
It has become official: the two players tested during the last break caused by the Euro 2012 qualifiers have signed for one of the most in-form teams in Liga I, Poli Timisoara.
Jiri Krejci is a 24 years old central defender, who came after a short and unsuccessful spell in Greece, with Iraklis, while the Brazilian Carlos Rafael Rocha is a 21 years old left sided player, at his first attempt to impress in Europe. If Krejci will have to fight for his place in the squad, as Poli can rely on the experienced duo Burca-Cisovsky and has also involved as much as possible the promising Luchin and Mera in the past couple of season, Rafael is a much needed backup for Timisoara’s only natural left back, Laszlo Sepsi.
Interesting fact: Rafael was recommended by Poli’s Brazilian wing-back Helder, who is playing on loan from Nancy and has impressed with his outstanding pace and appetite for attacking football, and Timisoara’s coach Cosmin Contra says he was convinced by the left back’s skill, pace and ability to read the game.
Linked with all the big guns from Romania that were looking for a top coach at one point, Hagi stated recently that he will refuse any offer that comes to him after the beginning of a season, as he’d like to avoid the mistakes done in his coaching career. Today, he made an exception for Galatasaray Istanbul, one of the three teams that he likes to consider “home”, alongside Steaua Bucharest and the national team, where he’d surely love to get a second chance to prove himself.
In spite of Galata’s poor start of the season and the pressure he’ll have to whitstand in the first year, I think it’s a good decision, as he had to return to coaching rather sooner than later, and waiting for the right project to come along has kept him on the sidelines a bit too much. He never walked away from football, though, as in the past two years he managed to build an excellent football academy, which is now represented in the Romanian second division, hosts tournaments involving top clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, and gathers most of the talented kids who are hoping to follow in his footsteps. Read more…
He doesn’t want to be called “Mister”, he prefers his nickname. From the top of the league, Munti explained today, in an interview for http://www.evz.ro, what’s the secret behind Otelul’s perfect start of the season. Here are the most important quotes:
Approach: “I like to work with Romanian players, they can get my messages and ideas clearly, and this has turned things around for me, after a poor start. And this is an excellent group, considering that there were times when the players were unpaid for months, yet they kept on training and playing.”
Training: “Modern football means determination. I ask my players to work their socks off in training and, after fitness, we try to be very organized on the pitch. At a higher level, the players’ quality makes the difference, but in Liga I mentality is key. And we managed to earn this first spot even if we played three or four times with just ten men.”
Objectives: “My goal is to finish better than we did last season, when we missed a place in Europa League for just two points.”
Inspiration: “I continue to learn as a coach and I’m inspired by Magath and Daum, whom I call every once in a while to discuss things. I believe German football is a model to follow in every aspect, that’s why I brought a popular system in 1. Bundesliga 5 years ago at CFR Cluj, when everyone was shocked that I field three forwards in every game.”
After 11 rounds, Otelul is topping the league with 25 points, thanks to an excellent home record of six wins out of six games. Munti’s players also got two valuable results away from home, a 0-0 against the mighty Rapid and a 2-1 success, two rounds ago, against Dinamo.
- Unirea Urziceni – Gaz Metan Medias 0-1 (Todea 90)
Interesting tactical battle between two defensive squads, built to counter, but as I was expecting, Unirea starts to lose all the points, with their focus on defending the initial draw in every game, no matter the opponent’s name. All credit must go to Gaz Metan’s excellent coach Cristi Pustai (I know, I’m repeating myself), who pushed for the win with all his changes and the instructions for a positive and brave approach. The discrete performance from the Brazilian Eric, who’s refusing to extend his deal and, sooner or later, he’ll refuse to play at the same level, which would be a shame, was compensated by another solid performance from the two central midfielders, Hoban and Todea, with the captain bringing the third away win of the season for a really tough team to beat.
- Rapid – Astra Ploiesti 3-0 (Cassio 34, 36, Spadacio 42)
The break didn’t affect the most solid and spectacular team in the league and Rapid dominated with authority against a difficult opponent, who lost its first match under Tibor Selymes. Cassio Vargas added his third brace of the season, but must share an eventual bonus with his team-mates, having the chance to play in a team that brings the ball in the box with pace, skill and flair, through the excellent work of the central pair Spadacio – used deeper than usual – and Lazar, as well as the quality service provided by the wide men. Read more…
These are agitated days for the national team, with Razvan Lucescu under huge pressure from the public disgusted that the young coach blamed everyone but himself, for a start so poor that could compromise the entire qualifying campaign. Romania has two points from three matches and slim chances to turn things around, yet the Football Federation decided not only to defend its choice, but also to add two more years to the current deal and some extra cash, offering Lucescu Jr. a deal until 2014, paid with 375.000 euros per year! All this, in spite of the agreement that the coach will walk if he cannot get Romania to Euro 2012 and in spite of his obvious struggle to rebuild the team (the idea was to use the last official matches of the previous campaign to find new players and refresh the NT, but Lucescu preferred to take his long shot at landing the second spot in a group eventually won by France and Serbia).
This hard to explain support offered by Mircea Sandu and Ionut Lupescu has been balanced by the justified attack launched by the legendary Gheorghe Hagi, who played down the idea that Romania cannot get better results due to the quality of the available players. Very quiet until now, busy with running his excellent football academy, the former Barcelona & Real Madrid asked Mircea Lucescu’s son to step down, if he doesn’t have faith in the players’ ability anymore. Here are the most interesting quotes of their diallogue: Read more…
- Astra Ploiesti – Pandurii Targu Jiu 2-0 (Patrascu 7, Fatai 74)
- Universitatea Craiova – Universitatea Cluj 3-0 (Dina 5, Iliev 11, Wobay 54)
- Dinamo – Otelul Galati 1-2 (C. Munteanu 71 / Salagean 45, S. Ilie 74)
- Gloria Bistrita – Unirea Urziceni 0-0
- Poli Timisoara – Rapid 2-1 (Zicu 28, 86 / Cesinha 25)
- Gaz Metan Medias – FC Vaslui 0-0
- CFR Cluj – FC Brasov 4-0 (R. Bastos 18, Cadu 36 pen, Traore 49, De Zerbi 73)
- Steaua – Sportul Studentesc 4-2 (B. Stancu 5, 42, Patrascu 31 og, Bilasco 67 / Varga 3, 90 pen)
- Victoria Branesti – FCM Targu Mures 0-0
Next round (15-18th of October): Unirea Urziceni – Gaz Metan, Rapid – Astra Ploiesti, FC Vaslui – CFR Cluj, FCM Targu Mures – Poli Timisoara, Pandurii Targu Jiu – Sportul Studentesc, Otelul Galati – Gloria Bistrita, Dinamo – Steaua, Universitatea Cluj – Victoria Branesti, FC Brasov – Universitatea Craiova.
The narrow defeat from Norwich, plus the lucky away goal scored by CFR’s winger Ioan Hora, have injected enthusiasm and confidence in a team that forgets one little thing: this time, Sandoi’s men will have to show that they can play football, not just kill it.
The coach will make just one change in the eleven used four days ago: Sabrin Sburlea will replace Ionut Neagu. So, it’s a striker for a midfielder, and a switch from a theorethical 4-3-3 used in England to a 4-2-3-1 that has one big problem: the absence of a player capable to play in the hole, as a central attacking midfielder. The three players behind the lone striker are natural wingers, all three are right footed (which brings up another issue on the left side, where the full back, Barboianu, is right footed, as well!), and, instead of being equipped to find space through the middle (Gardos and Bicfalvi usually stay too close to the back four and will have problems in linking up play, a through ball is basically excluded), Romania will have only one attacking plan available – move the bal on the flanks.
The problem is problems are that Sburlea will have a hard time winning balls in the air against stronger opponents – his aerial game isn’t his main weapon – and that most of the crosses will come from the right side, after Hora’s lack of confidence in his left foot will make him waste the first opportunities to send the ball in the penalty area. Once England will realize that the danger comes from the small Gabriel Torje, Romania will have no other option than to kick it upfield and try to impress the ref with dives just outside or just inside the box, waiting for our plan A to defeat Pearce’s men: score from set-plays. Read more…