Group D: France, Romania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg.
Basically, we’re fighting with Bosnia for the second spot and those who think that this national team can win against the big boys should pray that the point(s) won against France will be enough to compensate those we’ll probably waste against Albania or Belarus…
Focusing on the double against Bosnia, I think that Bosnia has the edge, as football tends to favor those who dare to attack, while Romania has been shaping up as a very organized and defensive team under Razvan Lucescu. And I don’t blame the talented coach, in fact he should be appreciated for acknowledging our new position in football and trying to re-inject the underdog’s mentality, the only one that paid dividends (remember the counter-attacking skills of Italy ’90 and USA ’94!) for a team that, in recent years, lacked the right approach.
Lucescu’s job is to keep the mentality and team spirit that managed to keep France at bay during the last campaign, but find the right approach for the matches Romania will have to win. Oh, and, yes, the right players…
Right now, our NT doesn’t look promising. The only positions well covered are goalkeeper (Coman and Lobont), central defenders (Chivu, Radoi, Tamas, Goian). We also count on Rat at left back, on the likes of Ghioane, Apostol and Tanase in midfield, and on Marica upfront. And I’d take out Apostol and even Marica, although he looks in better shape this year, but, in order to do that, other players must step in and this is Lucescu’s challenge: finding the new wave of players until September and the guts he lacked in the previous campaign, when he should have had a different approach, as the second spot was already lost, when he took over from Victor Piturca. But he went from handing a debut to the promising Mihai Roman (24) on the right wing to recalling veteran Bogdan Mara (32), from changing the team’s atitude to regularly calling the very talented, but also very lazy and inconsistent Adrian Cristea.
So, who will play at right back, can we find someone better than Nicolita on the right wing (Szekely, Roman), can we rely on the fragile midfield pair Ghioane-Apostol in the middle of the park, can we still count on Tanase on the left wing, if Steaua will play him as a mezzapunta, who’s the centre forward that should team-up with Marica, upfront? These are the questions… :-)
- Bogdan Mara (32) stayed unemployed for just a day. The experienced winger, recently released by CFR Cluj, signed for Iraklis (11th place in the Greek first division) until June 2011. He’ll get 180.000 EUR per season and will be helped to adjust to the new environment by former Steaua and Kaiserslautern centre-forward Victoras Iacob, while playing alongside footballers like Sam Dalla Bona or Matias Lequi.
- Rapid Bucharest signed Serbian defender Nikola Beljic (25). He rejoins former team-mates from OFK Belgrade, Djordje Ivelja (24, central midfielder) and Vladimir Bozovic (28, left back) and will spend the next three seasons at the Bucharest side. Beljic was in the last six months of his current deal and Rapid paid a 50.000 UER transfer fee to get him now.
- Rapid also announced to have agreed terms with both Ventspils and Edgars Gauracs (21). The striker is expected in Romania tomorrow, when he should sign the contract. The Latvian U21 international comes on loan until the end of the season and Rapid has a buying option in the summer.
- Dinamo Bucharest allowed George Curca (28) to return to Farul Constanta, where he had spent the previous nine seasons. The goalkeeper was on loan until the summer, when Dinamo could have made the deal permanent in exchange of 250.000 EUR.
Alongside goalkeeper Nuno Claro (33), Italian coach Andrea Mandorlini has included on his black list the following players: Dario Flores (25, central defender from Urugay), Andre Filipe Leao (24, central defensive midfielder from Portugal) and Diego Ruiz (29, centre forward from Argentina – in picture). They’ve been offered on loan to Unirea Alba Iulia, but refused to go there. The presence of Ruiz (who spent the first half of season in Turkey, on loan at Kasimpasa) on the list is somehow surprising, as it comes a day after club owner Arpad Paszkany said that he’d prefer Ruiz to Yssouf Kone, as the Argentinian has been a more prolific scorer.
CFR also officially released on a free transfer experienced winger Bogdan Mara (32), who’s wanted not just by Steaua and Dinamo, but also says that he has offers from Russia and Greece.
- Steaua is ready to sell its captain, Sorin Ghionea (30). The owner Gigi Becali wants 200.000 EUR, 150.000 EUR, 100.000 EUR for the central defender. Ok, the guy lost some pace, but he’s a solid, experienced, two-footed centre-back, the commander of a solid defense and the leader of the locker-room. Too bad he has a big salary.
- CFR Cluj wants to get rid of experienced winger Bogdan Mara (32). He’s free to find himself a club, with Steaua and Dinamo showing some interest recently. Hasn’t been released yet, but he’s been informed that he won’t travel with the club to Antalya, for a training camp. Because he has a big salary.
- Rapid’s all-time top scorer in European competitions Mugurel Buga (32) is currently out of contract and looking for a club. Linked with Greek first division side Xanthi Skoda, he’s still un-attached. The forward missed only three games this season and scored 6 times in 14 appearances (10 starts). But he earned too much!