Home > My offside trap > Romania, the perfect sparring partner

Romania, the perfect sparring partner


We all knew that Razvan Lucescu would have a very difficult task in renewing Romania’s national team, but we all hoped that he would at least try to do it. Since he took over, he managed to lose matches with the team, the public’s respect for the promising club coach he was before his appointment and all sense of logic in his actions. Here we are, almost sure that we’ll be missing out on yet another final tournament, facing an important friendly match that would test his choices even more than some of the recent official games.

Dan Alexa (31) should be grateful for his second and probably last selection in the national team

With the controversial Mutu out of his hair for at least one more month (don’t worry, he didn’t drug himself by accident, when brushing his teeth in the morning, after a looong night, this time he’s injured), he should have enjoyed a pressure-free contest, the sort of game that cannot do more harm and, if the planets stay in line for 90 minutes, could offer the sort of result that might turn things around from then on. Instead, with only one important absence – his reserve captain, Mirel Radoi, announced his retirement -, Lucescu Jr. managed once again to make the public take the eyes away from a couple of good calls (Steaua’s Gardos has been the nicest surprise of the season so far, while Dinamo’s Torje deserves this just as much as a transfer abroad!) and wonder if he’s been hired to revive careers or contribute to some dull CV’s…

Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua), Costel Pantilimon (Poli Timisoara)

No Lobont, as you can see, but AS Roma’s keeper will surely continue to feature in the official games. Tatarusanu should start, as he’s been in terrific form for the past month, but it’s a shame that Universitatea Craiova’s very promising keeper, Silviu Lung Jr., has lost his place in the team lately – and not because of his form -, as this would have been a good opportunity to make his debut. Probable starter: Tatarusanu

Defenders: Cristian Sapunaru (FC Porto), Cornel Rapa (Otelul Galati), Vasile Maftei (Unirea Urziceni), Florin Gardos (Steaua), Dorin Goian (Palermo), Gabriel Tamas (WBA), Cristian Chivu (Inter Milano), Razvan Rat (Shakthar), Mihai Nesu (Utrecht).

Rapa and Gardos deserve this, but they’ll be very lucky to make their debut for the senior national team. Rapa is the third choice at right back, while Gardos should hope that Lucescu won’t park the bus and lock the doors, with Tamas and Chivu in central defense. Besides this, the young centre-back is probably as surprised as anyone else to see Dorin Goian back in the squad, after a long absence and some very poor performances for Palermo. Probable starters: Sapunaru, Tamas, Chivu, Rat.

Midfielders: Cristian Tanase (Steaua), Gabriel Torje (Dinamo), George Florescu (Alania), Adrian Ropotan (Dynamo Moscow), Dan Alexa (Poli Timisoara), Ciprian Deac (Schalke 04), Silviu Ilie (Otelul Galati).

This is probably the weakest midfield Romania has every selected! The seven players have a total of 26 caps and there are some strange decisions here as well. Tanase has been playing miserably for Steaua in the past month, but when you see that Lucescu goes for Ropotan (1 cap and never impressive since his move to Russia), you’d think that he’s looking for another Florescu (who was selected in similar conditions and has been under fire on every occasion). If he was only trying to alienate the fans and the press, Alexa’s call-up should definitely help. Timisoara’s captain is 31, has only one selection for the national team and is a very limited anchorman, nicknamed “The Surgeon” not for his tackling accuracy, but for his precision in finding his opponents’ tibia. Looking at the options available, I won’t be surprised to see Maftei deployed in Radoi’s place, in front of the back four, and the probable starters should be: Torje, Maftei, Florescu, Deac.

Forwards: Ciprian Marica (VFB Stuttgart), Bogdan Stancu (Steaua), Marius Bilasco (Steaua), Gheorghe Bucur (Kuban Krasnodar).

Bucur (19 caps / 4 goals) comes back in the team after a long absence, taking Daniel Niculae’s place, and this is the only surprise. For the first time in a long period, Marica is in the squad based on form and, if this would be the selection criteria, he should partner Steaua’s Stancu, as Bilasco has never played above average since his transfer to Steaua. Unfortunatey, the two do not look suited for a successful partnership, yet with their pace and agility, should keep Italy’s defenders on their toes. Probable starters: Marica , Stancu.

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  1. Wana
    November 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Regarding Rapa:
    Seems that Sapunaru is injured and wont be able to play against Italy, so there are chances for him making an appearance.

    Regarding Alexa:
    The nickname “Surgeon” is long out-dated, his play and tackles have improved a lot since he got that nickname.
    In this season he got only 4 yellow cards in 13 games and managed to get 3 assists, which isnt bad for a defensive midfielder.

    Regarding Deac:
    Don’t understand while he is still playing for the national team, this guy isn’t even a substitute in Gelsenkirchen.

  2. vlad
    November 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    nu mai inteleg nimic, ce dracu face dan alexa la nationala? Lucescu e un nemernic curat, sunt rapidist dar nu mai am nicun respect pentru boul asta. Chivu ar trebui sa joace mijlocas cu florescu, si tamas goian in defensiva, in locul lui sapunaru maftei e mai mult decat capabil sa joace in locul sau, max nicu joaca fiecare meci pentru freiburg, sau frunza, ar putea ia locul lui tembelul ala de tanase care petrece mai mult timp in baruri decit pe teren si deac care nu mai joace. nu inteleg de ce nu la luat pe marius constantin la nationala cand a fost foarte consistent in sezonul asta.
    I am Begging for Laszlo Boloni to come back to the national team, at least he doesn’t have an agenda.

    • November 16, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      Agree with the ending, but probably that’s the reason Boloni doesn’t get a second chance. As for Marius Constantin, who has been in top form – he’s injured, mate, so we cannot blame Lucescu for this one. But we have enough arguments anyway…

    • Wana
      November 16, 2010 at 11:44 pm

      Max Nicu plays every game for freiburg?
      Yeah, if by every game you mean 7 out of 12. In 4 of this games he wasnt even in the starting formation, and in the other 3, he was substituted during the game.
      His best grade in the kicker (german sport-magazine) ranking in these 7 games (1-6, 1 beeing the best) was 3. (He also got a 6 and a 5.)

      I’m pretty sure there are more capable players on his position in Romania.

      • November 17, 2010 at 6:18 am

        Good point, Wana, I’m with you re Nicu. Had his chance, didn’t impress, now it should take something special at club level to be back in the NT. If only the same criteria would have applied for everyone else – especially Florescu…

  3. vlad
    November 16, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Just being courious, what team do you support in Romania? Didn’t know he was injured, thats a lapse in concetration on my part. On a random note Hagi is on on a 2 game losing streak with galata I was afraid for him to come back to manage them because of the possibilty of him screwing up (again) with them and losing his popularity with the fans alltogether. Anyways, great blog you got Radu, cheers from Canada.

    • November 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

      I know this might be hard to believe, but I’m with nobody in particular. Would enjoy to see Petrolul, my hometown club, back in Liga I after seven years, though :-).
      As for Hagi, there’s always immense pressure on him – don’t know what everyone expected on such short term. I’d say he deserves the stick if Galata plays poor football after the winter break, not earlier.

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