In recent times, only George Florescu was better ranked in the list of unpopular figures in the mediocre national team that failed to qualify for a final tournament since 1998. What few people know is that these two had a similar start of their professional career, Florescu and Cocis leaving Universitatea Cluj, when they were 17, in a controversial double transfer to Sheriff Tiraspol, and playing afterwards in Ukraine and Russia.
If Florescu, who was a regular starter under Razvan Lucescu, failed to convince the current coach, Victor Piturca, during the friendly against Austria, played last June, Cocis returns to the team even if he was left out for the double against Estonia and Andorra, for the relief of the entire country. He featured last time in August, against Slovenia, but now he will not only get back in the fold, but seems to have strong credentials for earning a spot in the starting eleven. Once again, negative comments surfaced, but they’re unlikely to make Piturca change his mind. Quite on the contrary, considering the man’s stubbornness.
The public’s opinion, fueled by several coaches who analyzed the 29 years old’s game, is that Cocis is the sort of midfielder who can play everywhere, but won’t impress anywhere. ‘Tactical discipline and a good engine have made him invaluable in recent times though, when whoever coached Romania thought first to block the opposition’s game rather than try to create play. He has collected 43 caps and the fact that he scored only 2 goals only proves that he usually adds a defensive intent to the attacking positions he covers.
He’s expected to do the same in Istanbul, on Friday, when Piturca thinks to deploy him behind the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, but mainly to frustrate the Turkish build-up rather than support either Marica or Stancu, with the latter favored to start ahead of the Schalke backup striker, considering the excellent start of season he’s enjoying at Orduspor.
Romania will be playing hoping for a draw and the general feeling is that players like Cocis will never allow us to hope for more. The paradox is that we’ve always had gifted players and lacked the disciplined, hard-working ones, and my impression is that we might be wrong pointing the finger at Cocis, who is – in the end – admirable in his determination to please the coaches who trust him. Our real problem isn’t his presence in the team, but the absence of a quality number 10 and the coaches’ inability to adjust their tactical setup to the type of players they could and can count on. If things go bad in Istanbul, Cocis will be the perfect scapegoat once again and his former mate, Florescu, can start warming-up…
Victor Piturca selected 23 players for the midweek friendly versus Slovenia, 9 of them coming from abroad generally with problems at their clubs that could get a helping hand from this call-up. If Lazar, Papp, Rat and Stancu are enjoying a good status, Marica is on Schalke’s black list for some time, Lobont fights for a place on the bench, not between the sticks, Torje needs to impress on loan in La Liga, while Tamas has no idea if WBA’s change of manager will also change his fortune. Add to this the level of Liga I and the lack of outstanding performers over here and it could make some sense to think about players like Adrian Mutu or the retired Cristi Chivu.
Piturca explained that he’s still waiting for the two, but the striker needs to find himself a decent team and prove that he can reach a decent level of form, while Inter’s defender should come back on some recent statements that lead everyone to believe that he’s seriously considering a return to international football. If not all the fans/journos are excited about it – a view I personally don’t share -, Piturca certainly is, explaining that the current team needs someone to look up to and finally Chivu (and not Mutu!) is considered the sort of player and personality that fits the leader’s profile.
Here’s Romania’s squad for the friendly vs Slovenia:
Goalkeepers: Lobont (AS Rome), Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua), Silviu Lung Jr. (Astra)
Defenders: Papp (Chievo), Luchin, Grigore (Dinamo), Chiriches, Gardos, Latovlevici (Steaua), Tamas (WBA), Gaman (Astra), Rat (Shakhtar)
Midfielders: Torje (Granada), Roman (Rapid), Bourceanu, Tanase (Steaua), Lazar (PAOK), Cocis (FC Rostov)
Forwards: Niculae (FC Vaslui), Grozav (Petrolul), Marica (Schalke), Stancu (Orduspor)
With Gazzetta dello Sport reporting this morning that Pavol Farkas, a 27 years old Slovakian centre-back from FC Vaslui, was passing a medical in Verona and was about to sign for Chievo as a free agent, more interesting news than an under-rated player from Liga I moving for zero Euros to a Serie A club arrived in the afternoon.
Paul Papp, the young Romanian international who started at right-back for the national team in the recent friendly win versus Switzerland, will also play for Chievo next season. With the transfer details still kept secret, this definitely looks like a wise move by the “gialloblu”, who add a quality defender to their roster and have a very good chance to make a nice profit within the next two years.
23 years old in November, Papp recently broke into the national team, collecting 8 caps, and has featured in 74 Liga I matches, scoring 6 goals. He also played 2 games in the Champions League preliminary rounds and 4 other matches in the Europa League group stage.
Strong and athletic, good both in the air and on the ground and gifted with enough technique to be considered a decent solution at right back at NT level, Papp is a central defender that has all the qualities to impress in Italy. It would be best if he could play regularly in the middle, although the Italians do like to use strong players on wide positions, but either way the player’s chances to keep on featuring on a regular basis for Romania’s NT will receive a significant boost. And, in the end, this could only pay back Chievo, who took advantage of Lazio’s indecision and moved at the right time to get a defender with a lot of potential, who could make another step forward in the near future.
We all knew that Razvan Lucescu would have a very difficult task in renewing Romania’s national team, but we all hoped that he would at least try to do it. Since he took over, he managed to lose matches with the team, the public’s respect for the promising club coach he was before his appointment and all sense of logic in his actions. Here we are, almost sure that we’ll be missing out on yet another final tournament, facing an important friendly match that would test his choices even more than some of the recent official games. Read more…
Ciprian Marica thinks about retirement. Stuttgart’s fans have no reason to celebrate: it’s about the national team
(In)famous agents Ioan and Victor Becali decided to change tactics before the game in France, refusing to comment regarding the national team and especially its coach, Razvan Lucescu. They knew that Mircea’s son had little chances to come out with a win, so “Le Bleus” were going to give them a hand in changing this stubborn coach, who refuses to acknowledge their influence and picks his team on his own.
It was one of their clients who spoiled this decent plan, as Ciprian Marica needed just a couple of training sessions to realize that he was going to start the match on the bench, in spite of his outstanding scoring record of one goal in almost 800 minutes played for the national team, under Lucescu Jr. On Friday, Victor Becali appeared on tv and spoke about his client’s thoughts to stop playing for Romania. Marica himself refused to use these words, but stated his discontent, saying that “The coach favors other players”, still hoping that this kind of pressure might change Lucescu’s plans. It didn’t, but the young coach showed enough diplomacy to send Marica on the pitch in the second half. Read more…
It could have been a wonderful start, with Belarus defeating France and Romania sweating working as a unit for a 1-0 win against Albania, but yet another stupid goal from a set-play encouraged everyone to speak up and against the current coach, his poor selection and the mediocrity of the current generation of players. Everyone but the players under Razvan Lucescu, represented with bitterness and his usual class by the team’s captain, a certain Cristian Chivu. The Internazionale defender… defended the young coach – “who prepares games like no one else I’ve seen at the national team” – in front of the press and from attacks that have been launched by the (in)famous agents Ioan and Victor Becali. It’s an oustdanding gesture, knowing that he’s related to the Becalis through contracts and even religious matters, as Victor is his child’s godfather, but one that probably has been forgotten already, as the media’s busy promoting two of the names ready to take over from Lucescu Jr., in case of a poor result in Belarus: Gheorghe Hagi and Laszlo Boloni. In the background, the lobby for Adrian Mutu’s return to the national team becomes more and more obvious and it’s no surprise, given the fact that the player’s ban determined the Becali’s to go for Lucescu’s jugular. Read more…
When Romania finished the warm-up on Fener’s stadium, the reserves found a certain Guus Hiddink on the bench. Unfortunately for us, the Dutch maestro only kept his place for around 30 seconds, then moved on Turkey’s bench, leaving us with Razvan Lucescu, a promising coach, no argument about that, but I’m not sure that he’ll be also the one that will qualify this team for Euro 2012. This was the last rehearsel, with pretty much all the players that will be heavily involved in the campaign that is about to start.
Goalkeepers: Lobont was in goal and looked comfortable as always when called into action with desperate backpasses, but had absolutely no reaction to Arda’s fabulous strike, for Turkey’s second goal. On the bench we had Pantilimon (reserve at FC Timisoara) and Bornescu (in top form at Rapid), with Silviu Lung Jr. left to the U21, but considered mature enough to perform even for the seniors.
On Monday, Razvan Lucescu will start training for a series of three friendlies: against Ukraine (29th of May), Macedonia (2nd of June) and Honduras (5th of June). Here’s the team:
Goalkeepers: Pantilimon (FC Timisoara), Bogdan Lobont (AS Roma), Silviu Lung Jr. (Universitatea Craiova)
Defenders: Maftei, Galamaz (Unirea Urziceni), Dananae (Universitatea Craiova), Tamas (WBA), Dorin Goian (Palermo), Cristian Chivu (Inter Milano), Razvan Rat (Shakthar Donetsk), Laszlo Sepsi (FC Timisoara)
Midfielders: Roman (FC Brasov), Radut (International Curtea de Arges), Radoi (Al Hilal), Florescu (FC Midtjylland), Ghioane (Dynamo Kyiv), Cocis (FC Timisoara), Tanase (Steaua), Deac (CFR Cluj)
Forwards: D. Niculae (Auxerre), Andrei Cristea (Dinamo), N. Dica (CFR Cluj), Bilasco (Unirea Urziceni), Mazilu (FC Arsenal Kyiv).
Well, a more balanced team from Lucescu Jr. this time! Only one player from Steaua, Tanase, and this one called not as a reward for his form, but more to give him credit and try to exploit his potential. One player from Dinamo as well, the only one who deserved a call-up, while Craiova, who almost paid a huge price for fielding a very young team all season long, has two players – Lung (very promising, consistent enough for his age, should play ahead of Pantilimon and Lobont, who both lack match practice!) and Dananae, a right back who just returned from a long lay-off, isnt’ at his best, but could be a solution for the future. I would have called Sapunaru, who was by far the best Romanian right back in the league in the second half of season, but I think Lucescu made some choices and, when a team looks balanced, with old players and hot prospects fighting for a place in the team in almost every position, it’s fair to keep quiet.
I like the fact that Radut gets a taste of the action, that Bilasco is finally in the team, but I wouldn’t have called N. Dica. Anyway, now that the team is decent, I am really looking forward to see if Lucescu has also some fresh tactical ideas, as I think we’re doomed if he sticks to that 4-4-2 with two defensive (or not creative enough) central midfielders, wingers keen to go back, not forward, and attackers that are too weak to count in the air, too often forced to come down for the balls, as they fail to connect with the long passes thrown behind the opposition’s defence. We’ll be playing against decent teams and I expect to see Romania working on a style that will allow this squad to lay siege on a weaker opponent, as we’re experts in defending and destroying, even when our chances are destroyed and there’s nothing left to defend…
- After yet another disappointing display and an unexpected defeat in Galati, CFR’s coach Andrea Mandorlini left his assistants take over today’s training session. Obviously, the press speculated about a possible replacement, with president Iuliu Muresan in a short trip to France (where the out of contract Laszlo Boloni resides), but this could be just one of the Italian’s methods to turn things around, after he has failed to put together a solid team and a style of play in the three months long winter break :-).
- Following Adrian Falub’s resignation, Unirea Alba Iulia is close to signing former Steaua coach, the experienced Dumitru “Titi” Dumitriu. Indeed, this might be a good choice for an otherwise decent team to at least have a shot at avoiding the drop.
- National team coach Razvan Lucescu has challenged Florin Costea to help his team avoid relegation, in order to get more attention from him in the near future. Costea is a regular scorer in Liga I, plus Universitatea’s best, highest rated, star (etc, etc) player and most pundits cannot understand why he’s not getting regular call-ups from Lucescu jr. I’m not one of them ;-).
- Steaua’s owner Gigi Becali threatened coach Mihai Stoichita, after his desire (to drop Alexandru Tudose from the first team) was ignored in the 2-2 draw against Unirea Urziceni. Stoichita collected 2 points out of 9 this year and is yet to play the likes of Parpas and Tall, defenders bought by the club at his wish. This is definitely the last warning from Becali, but I won’t be surprised to see Stoichita sticking to his choice, knowing the huge pressure he’s been under since his arrival and that he has reached a point where he contemplates leaving the club anyway.
I’d have to start with the coaching role, as Lucescu, who started a very promising career at club level, seems a bit overwhelmed by his role. The Wednesday game against Israel was a complete waste of time, because I believe that we were aware of the sorts of problems we needed to solve, without having to suffer any other embarassing loss…
With discipline and hunger already injected in the team, Mircea Lucescu’s son needed to test the players that could either complete the first eleven, offer backup for some positions or promise to break in the squad in the near future. Well, in the end, we could only count for one good call: Roman, the right midfielder from FC Brasov, the player that had made a nice impact coming on as a sub against France. Read more…