- After a violent foul on Bulgarian full-back Milanov, CFR’s captain, Ricardo Cadu, has been suspended for 9 rounds. With his club already making an appeal to have it reduced (very likely to happen), Vaslui threatens to take the Portuguese centre-back to court. “Losing more than 4 teeth means mutilation and he can be charged for that! Our player will miss at least two months of football and we’ll ask for the player to be punished, so we can also get back the wages we’ll be offering to out player during this forced break”, said Ciprian Damian, the president of FC Vaslui.
- Dinamo’s players have finally received something from the club: another promise that they’ll be paid. One of the main shareholders, Ionut Negoita, the man who is also trying to get full control of the club, met the players and said that all the delayed payments will be solved within two weeks. “We still have to get 70% of the November salaries, plus full wages for December and January”, said veteran striker Ionel Danciulescu.
- The 17 years old Nicolae Vasile, who made his debut in Rapid’s first eleven in the first official game of the year, has been offered a pro contract. “He had nothing signed with us when playing for our youth teams, but he refused the chance to move to our rivals, Dinamo“, says now with a proud and happy face Constantin Zotta. Someone who would have probably blamed anyone else, in case Rapid would have lost the left back that stepped in place of Vladimir Bozovic, the Montenegro international who left the club after 6 seasons.
- The cash-strapped Dinamo signed another player (as usual, with two and a half months to prepare, “top” clubs make signings after the league resumed). It’s Alexandru Tudose, once a promising defender, now 25. Played 50 games for Gloria Bistrita in the past three seasons, but also has 10 appearances for arch-rivals Steaua…
- Universitatea Cluj will play the next two home games behind close doors, a punishment for the fans’ behavior during the game against Steaua, when one support entered the pitch and flares were thrown from the stands. To make up for this, the ultras have asked the club to print tickets anyway, promising to buy them even if they’ll have to watch the matches on TV.
Under heavy criticism since the start of the season, the Italian coach looks to have finally earned some credit and the quiet atmosphere that comes along with it. It might have been down only to Dinamo’s first winning streak of the season (the Red Dogs only managed a draw in Medias this weekend, after three consecutive wins) but behind this good run of results is a playing style that starts to define a team under construction, with a roster that combines the huge experience of Ionel Danciulescu and Catalin Munteanu and the youth spirit of George Tucudean, Cosmin Matei or Constantin Nica.
Very ugly in the beginning, refusing to play, sitting back and working only to frustrate the opposition, even if it was inferior in terms of squad quality and club size, Dinamo was heavily contested. Supported only by the board and a part of the fans, but at war with the influential agent Victor Becali and most of the journalists, Bonetti deserves credit for his consistency and the hidden work that lead to a surprising transformation of a team that now is quite difficult to play against. The more you try to hurt it, the bigger chances you’ll be the one to suffer, by the quick reaction of a tight unit able to unleash deadly counters. Lacking enough attacking flair and worried about a rather young defense which lost its pillar, Cosmin Moti, to Ludogorets this summer, Bonetti knew that he would have struggled to create a solid offensive team, so he started his work from the back. Using his first matches to put this to the test, he managed to calibrate his team in a matter of weeks, being lucky enough to get some points along the way (including a lucky last minute win against Petrolul). The climax was the impressive display against the revelation Pandurii, a team able to create – and waste – a ton of chances, but which allows you to do the same, if you can absorb this sort of pressure. And Dinamo certainly can, an ability that might see the team struggling to break weak, defensive opposition, but offer an advantage in the derbies that can decide, in the end, who deserves to be up there and who doesn’t.
Undefeated for almost a month now, Dinamo sits now in 5th place with 18 points and looks prepared to earn a European spot this season without glamorous displays, but with determination and hard work. And, comparing to the previous seasons, marked by an unrealistic, cocky approach, this time a place in the top five Romanian clubs will look like an achievement, not as a failure.
* foto from gsp.ro
Wonderful performance from George Tucudean, who had started the season with 5 goals in 34 appearances in the top flight! The 21 years old striker took advantage of a very weak opponent and scored on Sunday evening four goals (and offered one assist, too!) in the 5-2 win against CSMS Iasi. He did all that in less than an hour, before being substituted with veteran striker Ionel Danciulescu, and in the second game started since another experienced fron man, Marius Niculae, had left the club and signed for FC Vaslui.
Now Tucudean – who had started the season in style, with a brace scored in the Romanian Supercup – will have to prove that his numbers were indeed affected by a competition that hasn’t always been fair in Dinamo’s attack, who desperately needed new blood. It will be a test of character and mental strength for the player that a few years ago was tested by Celtic to rise up to the occasion and take the chance to establish himself as a constintent performer at a good age. A test that won’t be easy, considering the fact that right after the game the youngster spoke without reservation of following the footsteps of his idol, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the friendly against Barcelona, scheduled on the 11th of August. A test he started worse than the season that could influence decisively his career…
Position last season: 5th place
Looking at the way they blew it last season, it’s difficult to find the guts to bet on the Red Dogs this term. They’ve dominated the league for half of season, then thought that changing Liviu Ciobotariu would produce a shock and deliver results, finishing in 5th place instead, as Dario Bonetti couldn’t deliver more than a Romanian Cup triumph. The Italian made a promising start though, winning the Supercup a few days ago, but he struggle to keep his position safe, once the results will be anything short of great. The fans have nothing against him, but they’re not close enough to the team in big numbers to influence things, the board members have different opinions, while the influential agents Victor and Giovani Becali are 100% against the man. Same story like last season, then?
Important transfers out: Cosmin Moti (central defender, key player); Djakaridja Kone (defensive midfielder, key player)
Two experienced, dedicated players who were part of the team’s back bone. Moti went to Ludogorets in search of a new challenge, while Kone’s playing a dangerous game. Wanted a couple of months ago in France, the move isn’t done yet and I wonder if the rumors had any truth in them or if this is just another agent playing with a client’s career. Anyway, both will be hard to replace, and Bonetti decided to move Srdjan Luchin in the middle (last season, regular starter at right back), with Cristian Scutaru, who played second division football last term, ready to step in and… that’s about it. Very delicate situation in the long run, but it’s not too late to add at least another name for this role.
If CFR Cluj got rid of Jorge Costa after a 0-5 defeat at home against another title contender, Dinamo Bucharest took the same call after a 1-3 defeat at home against Petrolul, a team that struggles to avoid relegation. In both cases, the boards went for coaches who have been previously in charge of the two teams, but if Ioan Andone has won a title with CFR, nothing notable springs to mind when you think of Dario Bonetti’s first spell with the Red Dogs.
Apparently recalled only to help as a supervisor of Liviu Ciobotariu, the Italian has to step in now that the coach refused to work in the new structure, but it’s clear from his and the board’s statements that this was the initial idea anyway. It’s not a wise move at all and, as I said in this earlier preview, Dinamo’s chances to win the league will suffer once the shareholders will give up on their surprisingly discrete role from the first half of the season…
Instead of giving a wake-up call to the players – veterans Catalin Munteanu, Ionel Danciulescu and Marius Niculae, who were in top shape until December, were offered new deals in January and their performance instantly dropped afterwards -, the board sacked a humble, but dedicated young coach, who had created a functional and, at times, attractive 4-4-2.
This move will anger the anyway disgusted fans, the very influential agents Victor and Ioan Becali, as well as a club legend like Cornel Dinu, and with so much unrest withing the club’s ranks I doubt that Bonetti’s arrival could have a positive effect on a team that was cruising in Liga I in the first half of the season and now will have to chase CFR, but also keep an eye on their biggest rivals, Steaua and Rapid, who took advantage of the recent unconvincing displays and results.
PS If I were Mihai Stoichita, the recently appointed coach of third placed Steaua, I’d start praying that the next league game versus Otelul Galati will end with a satisfying result for the never satisfied owner, Gigi Becali…
The Red Dogs spent the winter with their noses in front of a group of at least four other teams convinced they can fight for the title until the very end and have started the year with an important win, 2-0 against Gaz Metan Medias. The club made a bold decision by renting the National Arena for this match (Dinamo’s average attendaces at home have been nothing short of embarrassing) and the players and the fans had a really good first meeting which could pay dividends for the rest of the campaign.
7 players have left the club this winter, but only 2 departures could have an impact on the first team: Zie Diabate, the starting left back, was sold to Dijon, and the promising (for a few years now) Liviu Ganea was allowed to move to a rival like CFR Cluj, as the young forward was refusing to extend a deal that was going to expire in the summer.
Steaua was lucky in tonight’s derby, because if Rusescu wouldn’t have invented a long range shot to cancel Marius Niculae’s 13th goal of the season (last January, with 13 goals in half of seson, Bogdan Stancu was moving to Galatasaray for 6 mil. E!) Ilie Stan’s men would have struggled to get back into the game. They usually have trouble scoring and Dinamo was surprisingly solid at the back this year, mainly due to the good form of Cosmin Moti, who was once an AS Roma target, and the addition of Srdjan Luchin at right back. But at 1-1, with Pablo Brandan and Alexandru “Gattuso” Bourceanu pressing hard in central midfield, Steaua managed to increase the distance between Dinamo’s line, leaving Danciulescu and Niculae isolated upfront.
Liviu Ciobotariu wasn’t inspired either, taking off Marius Alexe at half time and adding a striker on the left side proving suicidal for that flank, while Ilie Stan was going to be rewarded for understanding that Steaua needed a win, not a draw, and keeping an offensive setup until the very end.
It was a poor game, actually, as derbies often are in this country, Steaua failing to create a decent counter in almost half an hour, until Mihai Costea killed the match, but the result will definitely do the competition a lot of good. Dinamo has CFR and Rapid very close, with Steaua and Vaslui hoping to get back into the title race with a good run of results, so we could be in for a very interesting winter period as well. It’s been a while since we’ve had Dinamo, Rapid and Steaua in such good positions, but do not take anything for granted just yet – their owners/shareholders have the rare gift of screwing things up when they start to look good, reminding everybody that this is definitely not their “fault”…