Now that’s something, especially when two of the opponents are Lazio and Schalke 04. Although Rapid managed to win away in Israel, confirming that Razvan Lucescu knows how to approach the games in Europe, Vaslui was again the surprise package, not only because they almost won on “Olimpico”, but because they are still struggling to field a decent defense.
Cisse, Rocchi and Sculli were often frustrated by a back four that contained only two natural defenders, as Viorel Hizo was once again forced to improvise in front of a very young keeper. The Italians might not know it, but Ionut Balaur, the centre-back, is a 21 years old striker, with absolutely zero experience in Liga I, while the left flank was defended by Nemanja Milisavljevic, a serbian left winger who rarely used to track back when used in his natural position.
All credit must go to the experienced Hizo, who wasn’t bluffing when he announced that the team will try to play an open game and he was right to try an keep the ball away from the box, as Vaslui always struggled to contain Lazio when pegged back, even with a one man advantage. With Sanmartean able to dribble in a phone booth, the intelligent Wesley always dropping into space at the right time and Adailton kept on the pitch even when he couldn’t run anymore, for his ability to deliver killer balls, Vaslui might regret the lost points, but shouldn’t, if this inexperienced team in Europe learned something from a contest they had entered with no chances to survive and got so close to come out with the result of their lives.
A much more cautious approach was adopted by Steaua against Schalke, with Ronny Levy clearly going for a draw and rarely thinking to take advantage of the German’s unstable defense. The Bucharest side is obviously struggling to find a new identity and will need time to make the system work with so many new players, with Bourceanu vital to keep things tight at the back and the entire team compact. His impact has been huge and “Romania’s Gattuso” is the only certainty in Levy’s eleven, which has too many centre-backs, but no reliable right back, enough forwards, but not a natural goalscorer, hard working central midfielders with little vision and playmaking ability and not a single wide player able to make the difference. This team needs a lot of work to get going and I doubt the coach will have enough time to put together a puzzle that doesn’t lack quality pieces. The good thing is that there’s realism on the bench and th team is collecting points even in a difficult period.
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! Read more…
GABRIEL MURESAN – CFR Cluj
- Dan Alexa – FC Timisoara
- Gabriel Giurgiu – Otelul Galati
- Sorin Paraschiv – Unirea Urziceni
- Costin Lazar – Rapid Bucharest
My view: Yes, Muresan deserves to be up there, but Alexa doesn’t! The holding role is/should be much more than just sitting in front of the back four and winning balls, such a limited player isn’t useful to a winning team anymore. And when you have one pure anchorman on the pitch, adding another one (Bourceanu) when playing at home should be classified as attempted murder on football, a crime that brought punishment on a decent person, but a coach that still needs to develop, like Ioan Ovidiu Sabau. Sorry, got a bit carried away with this ).
Back to our top: consistent season from Giurgiu, who also got a couple of important goals and was labelled by some as the best defensive midfielders in the league, but I cannot understand how a massive midfielder like Ousmane N’Doye could have missed the top five. Anyway, he’ll compensate this by getting the first place when we get to the nightclub performances section!
My choices: Already said enough about N’Doye (btw, the guy is the leader when it comes to taking out opponents!), let’s include here Ionut Neagu, who was playing until the winter for the bottom placed in the second division, CSM Ramnicu Sarat, and is another nice coup from Marius Stan and Dorinel Munteanu. Also, it was an excellent first season in Liga I for the Japanese Seto Takayuki, while Timisoara’s Bourceanu would have been higher in the standings if he would have played in his natural role, as he often had to drift wide on the left flank, in a very unconfortable position for this workaholic central midfielder.
Note: the top five is taken from Gazeta Sporturilor, a newspaper that uses the service of Digital Soccer Project. These results are based on a series of specific criteria for each position, include only players that have collected at least 1.200 minutes on the pitch in the past season and the only subjective part of the analysis consists in the average marks received by the newspaper’s writers.
- Brazilian anchorman Ricardo Vilana Gomes (28) refuses to return to Romania, although his club, Unirea Urziceni, resumed training for more than two weeks now. The player claims that he wasn’t paid according to his contract, while the club is threatening with a suspension until the end of the current deal. Romanian press speculates about a possible interest from FC Timisoara, but I highly doubt it, given that the Viola outfit has already two very good defensive midfielders, Dan Alexa and Alexandru Bourceanu, and the coach often struggles to keep both of them satisfied.
- Andrea Mandorlini is reportedly interested in signing Italian attacking midfielder Roberto De Zerbi (30), who played last season for Avellino, in Serie B, scoring 5 goals in 15 appearances. In spite of several names from Italy mentioned so far as transfer targets for CFR, Mandorlini’s only signing from Serie A is Romanian forward Nicola Dica, bought from Catania, via Iraklis.