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…
- Gaz Metan Medias topping the standings is something even I wasn’t expecting, although I predicted a good season from this well organized team. The Brazilian Eric de Oliveira scored his 7th goal in 4 matches (a wonderful free kick) and left the field with 20 minutes to go, losing the chance to try and make it four consecutive braces in this outstanding start of season!
Another small team tipped to do well, Otelul Galati, added an important win against the newly promoted FCM Targu Mures, and Dorinel Munteanu’s keeper, Grahovac, is the only one in the league with four clean sheets. Impressive!
- Things are going very bad for Unirea Urziceni, though, who’s yet to score a goal this season, and worrying for CFR Cluj, held to a draw at home by a team that will struggle to avoid relegation this season. Good debut from the Brazilian Rafael Bastos, though, who could play an important part this season, as the missing playmaker. The problem is that Mandorlini keeps on looking for the best tactical setup & formation, which is unacceptable, in my opinion, after almost a year in charge. Read more…
Romania’s U21 added another win on Wednesday to a campaign that’s very close to the end, one that will be decided after the two encounters versus the group leaders, Russia. Sandoi’s youngsters scored the only goal of the match versus Moldova from the spot, Liviu Ganea converting the penalty awarded after a run from one of his colleagues from Dinamo, Gabriel Torje. Here’s Sandoi’s team – one that relied once again on an improvised left flank (Barboianu plays in central midfield, while Costea is a natural striker):
Lung Jr – Rapa, Gaman, Papp, Barboianu – Torje, Bicfalvi (Neagu 40), A. Ionescu, M. Costea (Gangioveanu 77) – L. Ganea, Ionita (Hora 55).
The group will decide its winner on the 3rd (Botosani) and 7th (St. Petersburg) of September, when Romania will play Russia, both teams having right now the same number of points, 21.
ANDREI CRISTEA– Dinamo Bucharest
- WESLEY LOPES DA SILVA – FC Vaslui
- Pantelis Kapetanos – Steaua Bucharest
- Gheorghe Bucur – FC Timisoara
- Junior Moraes – Gloria Bistrita
My view: Wesley couldn’t have missed this one, he had a solid season and deserves credit for acting very mature during a winter conflict with the club’s owner, which ended in his favor. Cristea was THE Romanian forward, that’s for sure, although I’m sure he’d be useless without a good centre forward alongside him. Obviously, he doesn’t think so, as he became blinded by the opportunity to snatch the golden boot award and looked very selfish and ugly in the last couple of months, an approach that will turn against him next season, if he doesn’t leave Dinamo.
Leaving aside Kapetanos, the only striker who needs to concentrate on his World Cup performances, it’s interesting to see up there two strikers that have played for just half of season, Bucur leaving Timisoara for Krasnodar during the winter, while Moraes came to Bistrita in February, but made an instant and huge impact. Just outside the top five is Urziceni’s Bilasco, a player with an excellent aerial game for his 1,84 m, while CFR’s “stars”, Kone and Traore are waaay down, very close to the ratings received by Pandurii’s strikers, Raskovic and Stromajer, famous for their lack of ability and flair.
My choices: I liked a lot Moraes, as well, but I think CFR’s Bud deserves to be recalled for the way he stepped up and delivered. Dinamo’s Liviu Ganea had a nice run with Astra, where he spent the season on loan, but he ruined all his work with his decision to “shut down” and “preserve” his goals for a better cause than saving Astra from relegation. I have serious doubts regarding his mentality and I think that the gifts he has were delievered by nature to the wrong type of person. Timisoara has a really quality player in Dorin Goga, who’s creative and skilful, but the player and the team would have got so much more out of this season, if Magera was used up-front on a regular basis. In the end, I’ll add Rusescu, a youngster I enjoy watching for three seasons now, but who I’d expected to see get more and more time on the pitch…
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.
The start of 2010 convinced Timisoara‘s fans that Bucur’s departure wasn’t properly covered, as the Viola outfit is struggling in front of goal. The poor form of Winston Parks and Sabau’s defensive approach (defensive wide midfielders, two anchormen at the same time on the pitch) left the talented, but so far unlucky Dorin Goga on his own upfront. Also, keeping Magera on the bench, who could be an ideal partner for Goga, isn’t the best decision, but the board seem to understand better than me Sabau’s choices and announced that they’re looking to strengthen the attacking department for next season… Read more…
- Liviu GANEA - 22 years old, striker, Astra Ploiesti
Recalled by Dinamo during the winter break, after a solid first half of season for the newly promoted team from Ploiesti (6 goals in 13 matches), he rejoined Astra a few days before the first oficial game of 2010. Although he had trained with another team for two months, his performance against Pandurii was more than decent, as he tormented the opposition’s defense with his movement and also offered an excellent assist for Astra’s second goal. His next performance was outstanding, though, as he scored a brace against one of the best organized teams in the league, FC Brasov. Both goals came through well placed headers, although he’s the type of forward who’s excellent at running the channels, taking on his man and looking to shoot whenever he gets the chance, looking rather poor (and scared) in the air! With this brace, Ganea gets a new season high, as last season he scored 7 times in 25 matches and now he’s got 8 goals in 15 games, but still has other 15 opportunities to improve this amazing scoring rate…
- Gabriel GIURGIU – 27 years old, central midfielder, Otelul Galati
Scored the decisive goal away at Ceahlaul and offered the same solid display in the centre of the park, like in the previous round. Otelul has now 6 points of out 6 and, lacking the quality forwards able to make the difference upfront, has to rely on the hard work done by plyayers like Giurgiu, who managed to add something extra to his usual game, breaking forward a lot more often than before and taking his chances upfront when they appear.
- Jose Alcides Moreno Mora, also known as Pepe Moreno (28), is very close to a return to Steaua Bucharest. The Colombian centre-forward left a very good impression last time he played for the Bucharest side, scoring 5 goals in half of season and producing a number of solid displays. Pepe Moreno is expected to rejoin his former colleagues in Turkey, on Monday, and he should increase the competition for a starting place upfront and especially put some pressure on Greek CFWD, Pantelis Kapetanos (26).
- FC Timisoara made an attempt to buy the former U21 international Liviu Ganea (22), from their arch-rivals, Dinamo Bucharest. The promising forward was rarely given the chance to feature for Dinamo, collecting 15 appearances, in spite of making his debut back in 2006. Loaned to CS Otopeni (7 goals in 26 matches) and, this season, to Astra Ploiesti (6 goals in 12 matches), he was recalled in December and now is fighting for a place in the team with the likes of Marius Niculae, Florin Bratu, Claudiu Niculescu and Andrei Cristea. The tough competition encouraged Timisoara to come forward, but Dinamo refused an initial bid of 500.000 EUR, in spite of the player’s uncertain future on short and mid-term.
- Rapid continues to surprise with its aggressive presence on the transfer market, given the financial status of the club. The latest ambitious target for the Bucharest side is getting back Cristian Sapunaru (25), from FC Porto. The right back, who was sold in Portugal in the summer of 2008 and collected so far 22 matches in the Liga Sagres, would take this opportunity in case he will be suspended for hitting a steward after the match against Benfica.
- The Slovakian defender Marian Cisovsky (30) has returned to full fitness after four months spent on the sidelines. Cisovsky, who had played in 27 matches and scored three goals in his first season in Romania, had suffered a knee injury in the Champions League qualifying match against VFB Stuttgart. After Milos Brezinsky (25), he’s the second important defensive player that returns from a long injury and, with the adition of Cosmin Contra, coach Ioan Ovidiu Sabau has every reason to look forward to the second half of season, in which the Viola outfit will be pushing for the title.
- Former Romanian international and Barcelona captain, Gheorghe “Gica” Popescu, intends to invest in a second football academy, in Targoviste. He already has one located just outside Craiova, spread over 50.000 square meters, which produced a number of valuable players. The first good “products” were the established Ovidiu Burca (Energie Cottbus), Ionut Rada (ex Rapid and Steaua Bucharest), Mihai Dina (Universitatea Craiova, but now there’s a new generation that includes the promising Sebastian Mladen, Alexandru Pena, Alin Petrea and Adrian Stoian (all transferred to AS Roma), Sabrin Sburlea (FC Brasov), Liviu Ganea (Dinamo), Lucian Filip (Steaua).