It was all perfect back in 2012! Steaua dominated the league, a reminder of the good old days, and qualified for another European spring, having the
arrogance guts to take Ajax lightly and speak of the possible double with Chelsea in the Europa League. As January passed by without anything spectacular happening, other than the usual game of asking unrealistic prices for players like Chiriches, Tanase or Rusescu, things got hotter as the Amsterdam trip came into sight.
A huge betting scandal involving Laurentiu Reghecampf kept the media busy, as the young coach was placed at the heart of a possible fixed game that took place in the 1.Bundesliga, when he was playing for Energie Cottbus. It proved big enough to make the Bucharest side react “in style”, shutting down all access during the team’s second training camp.
As things weren’t bad enough, Steaua’s owner scored a hat-trick of legal issues in the past few days, as his name featured in three cases and at least one of them did some damage, as Becali received a 3-year sentence with conditional suspension of execution for trying to make justice for himself by forcefully retaining the people that had tried to steal his car.
All these issues seriously damaged Steaua’s image and it might have also affected the team’s morale and focus ahead of the first official match of the year. If they also diverted the attention from the on-the-pitch problems that Reghecampf had to address during this long winter break, the fans optimistic of having a strong chance to go through might have a few surprises on Thursday.
Steaua has defensive problems: at right back there’s a dilemma whether to use new signing Cornel Rapa from the off or still improvise with Alex Chipciu, the quick winger that had to cover the role a few times in the past; Lukasz Szukala, who would have probably started in central defense suffered, a broken nose during a friendly game and he’s out, so the central pair will be formed by Vlad Chiriches and Florin Gardos. Both are young and, judging by the recent unconvincing performances of the highly rated Chiriches, inconsistent. Should I also mention the indifferent form of starting goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu? Or move upfield and remind of the absence of Cristian Tanase – suspended – which has created little debate, but the right footed left midfielder will surely be missed.
Steaua still thinking of a double with Chelsea? At the moment, it seems more likely to happen in autumn, in the Champions League…
Desperate to keep a clean sheet. Trained to destroy, not to build. Hoping for a lucky counter or a well taken free kick. This is Romania. At any level. From the senior national team to the Under 0. We have it in our genes and we’re not making the smallest effort to change our mentality. And you can see it at club level. Where we’re defending. Destroying. Hoping for the counter-attacks that bring once in a lifetime 2-0 wins on Olimpico. And we still wonder why we have slim chances to see Romania at a final tournament in this lifetime…
For those not very familiar with the team in yellow, the weekend was looking promising on Friday evening, when Romania faced England, in front of a packed stadium in Norwich. Sandoi’s eleven that featured one keeper, five natural defenders and five natural midfielders, was trying to switch from a 4-5-1 to a 4-3-3, as the team got hold of possession, being probably the first in the world to try and use three forwards, without having at least one on the field! Read more…
Steaua’s new manager, Victor Piturca, who’s yet to be officially unveiled, doesn’t agree that a team’s best defense is the attack. So, he rebuilds it from scratch. The situation was so dramatic last season that “Pitzi” needs to buy two players for each position in a back-four that will not count on the services of Golanski, Zhelev or Marin, who have been already released, while Baciu, Emeghara or Tudose – backup solutions during the previous campaign – are probably kept just until new reinforcements arrive.
Until now, Steaua bought what seems to be its first choice right back, the Bulgarian Yordan Todorov, who comes on loan from CSK Sofia, for just 40.000 Euros. In central defense, Piturca asked for the experienced Dorel Stoica, 32, who comes on a free transfer, but is in the middle of a huge scandal, involving his former club Universitatea Craiova. Able to play in central midfield, as well, Stoica should be the leader of the back four that needs at least two other quality centre-backs. One of them is Octavian Abrudan, who’s expected to sign in a matter of days and add aerial strength and intelligence, but won’t help much when it comes to the pace of the defensive line, Stoica being a slow player, as well. Piturca also signed Florin Gardos, from Concordia Chiajna, a towering central defender, U21 international, but someone that probably will have to wait and learn before getting to play on a regular basis. A fourth signing is needed, and that’ll probably be David Junior Lopes, from Cordoba, but we’d have to wait and see, as his arrival has been already announced a couple of times, by the papers… On the left, Steaua could get a second Bulgarian player, Stanislav Angelov, who is available on the market, after being released by Energie Cottbus.
The strategy is obvious: get old experienced defenders, in order to minimize the needed time to make a solid back-four, but the lack of pace and understanding will surely do some damage, at least in the first couple of months. How much? Well, enough to make these guys regret that they have spent under 100.000 Euros to get the players mentioned above…
Romania U21 will play against Israel U21 on Wednesday, in Tel Aviv, hours before the senior teams will meet in Timisoara. Here is the list of players called-up by Emil Sandoi:
- Goalkeepers: Cezar Lungu (Steaua II), Silviu Lung jr. (Universitatea Craiova)
- Defenders: Alexandru Matel (Farul Constanta), Stefan Barboianu (Universitatea Craiova), Cornel Rapa (Otelul Galati), Paul Papp (FC Vaslui), Florin Gardos (Concordia Chiajna), Radu Barbu (Universitatea Craiova), Silviu Ilie (OtelulGalati)
- Midfielders: Gabriel Torje (Dinamo), Andrei Ionescu (Steaua/Politehnica Iasi), Calin Cristea (Unirea Alba Iulia), Constantin Gangioveanu (Universitatea Craiova), Razvan Ochirosii (Steaua/Otelul Galati)
- Forwards: Sabrin Sburlea (FC Brasov), Mihai Costea (Universitatea Craiova), Liviu Ganea (Dinamo/Astra Ploiesti), Alexandru Ionita (Rapid), Raul Rusescu (Unirea Urziceni), Ioan Hora (Gloria Bistrita)
If this is indeed just a test ahead of the next official matches, than coach Emil Sandoi proves yet again a frightening lack of vision and guts! A simple overview points out the following facts: Read more…