If you check Romania’s page in the U21 section of the uefa.com website, you’ll find this: Competition status – active. The right words, after a second consecutive defeat against France without a single goal scored, should be “basically, out!”.
After a 0-2 defeat at home a month ago and already four points behind France and Slovakia, who also had a game in hand, Emil Sandoi decided to go all out for a win – the only result that would have kept us in, or active, as UEFA likes to say – with a brave tactics. A 5-4-1 which you’ll struggle to find even in the Romanian second division, where the coach should spend a lot more time looking for youngsters that play regularly, rather than settle for the usual reserves from the first division teams.
Sandoi also decided to use two right footed players on the left side, Dean Beta and Marius Alexe, reducing to a minimum the lone striker’s chances of getting some decent balls upfront, with Ionut Enache easily kept at bay on the right side, given the little support Cornel Rapa usually offers from the right back position.
Plan A – avoiding to concede and hope for the best upfront (that’d be an own goal scored by the home team) – lasted for almost 40 minutes, with some good performances from the central midfielders Maxim and Matei, outnumbered, but not yet tired. Unfortunately, Plan B was something that Sandoi never prepared and who could blame him? In fairness, the senior team played quite recently their must-win game against France and, with the score 0-0 towards the end of the match, Piturca’s men were taking no risks and desperately trying to hold on to the useless draw, much to the surprise of their opponents. In that case, why should we ask more from the Under 21, which so often is seen as a team that’s supposed to “prepare” the youngsters for the A national team? That’s exactly what Sandoi is trying to do. For years!