- Astra Ploiesti – Pandurii Targu Jiu 2-0 (Patrascu 7, Fatai 74)
- Universitatea Craiova – Universitatea Cluj 3-0 (Dina 5, Iliev 11, Wobay 54)
- Dinamo – Otelul Galati 1-2 (C. Munteanu 71 / Salagean 45, S. Ilie 74)
- Gloria Bistrita – Unirea Urziceni 0-0
- Poli Timisoara – Rapid 2-1 (Zicu 28, 86 / Cesinha 25)
- Gaz Metan Medias – FC Vaslui 0-0
- CFR Cluj – FC Brasov 4-0 (R. Bastos 18, Cadu 36 pen, Traore 49, De Zerbi 73)
- Steaua – Sportul Studentesc 4-2 (B. Stancu 5, 42, Patrascu 31 og, Bilasco 67 / Varga 3, 90 pen)
- Victoria Branesti – FCM Targu Mures 0-0
Next round (15-18th of October): Unirea Urziceni – Gaz Metan, Rapid – Astra Ploiesti, FC Vaslui – CFR Cluj, FCM Targu Mures – Poli Timisoara, Pandurii Targu Jiu – Sportul Studentesc, Otelul Galati – Gloria Bistrita, Dinamo – Steaua, Universitatea Cluj – Victoria Branesti, FC Brasov – Universitatea Craiova.
When Victor Piturca threatened his players that they will lose their wages for 3 or 4 months, if they play as selfish as CFR’s Lacina Traore, it would have been interesting to know what gsp.ro announces today: several players from Universitatea have, at least on paper, incredible wages for what they can offer and have offered to this beloved, but underachieving club, in recent years.
The club’s highest earner and also top player, Florin Costea, who’s currently injured, gets 410.000 Euros/season, a salary that cannot be found at the champion club, for example, where Sixto Peralta, the former Internazionale midfielder, gets 375.000 Euros/year. But let’s say that Costea deserves this, given his on-the-pitch input when fit, as well as a market value calculated in million Euros. But to hear that Spase Dilevski, an Australian defensive midfielder, who never stood out as a decisive player for the club, earns 370.000 Euros per season, and Mihai Dina, an average 25 years old forward, who has an excellent year when he scores five goals in the league, was getting paid 180.000 Euros/season, obviously shocked Universitatea’s new manager. Wage cuts of -40% followed immediately, with non-negotiable offers accepted by the mentioned players, as well as by the young Mihai Costea (down to 120.000 from 180.000), while others, like the 28 years old Brazilian David Lopes, are expected to either accept half of their current wages or leave the club during the winter break.
- The sixth round of the Romanian Cup was kicked off on Tuesday, with a commanding display from Rapid Bucharest, who should get credit for this results, considering the level of their opponents, Petrolul Ploiesti, currently leading in the second division, with four wins out of four, and a team packed with experienced players and some quality youngtsers. But Rapid looks well organized at the back and can fuel the front men from the wings with so many quality balls that the strikers’ names and form aren’t that important.
- The shock result of the round came on Wednesday, when FC Vaslui lost the momentum gained in the last two league matches (4-0 against Otelul, 2-1, away, at Dinamo), losing in front of ALRO Slatina, a mediocre second division outfit. Lopez Caro, who was very close to find some peace after the latest results, is back in deep trouble, having fielded a strong enough team, which included the likes of Kuciak, Milanov, Adailton and Wesley. Read more…
Otelul’s promising start of the season has just become magnificent. If Arles-Avignon had gained promotion in Ligue I last season, motivated by an article that tipped them for a quick return in the French third division pinned to the dressing-room wall, then Dorinel Munteanu should find useful this Top 5, even Steaua has one game in hand and will probably use it tonight, to top the standings.
Now that you’ve seen this and have been busy watching real professional football since 2006, when the club’s new ownership, Mittal Steel, was announcing its’ intent to build “a Romanian Chelsea” (a project Dan Petrescu was going to implement, in the meantime, with Unirea Urziceni, using though just a couple of million Euros), you might look at the standings and say “Now that’s an example of money well spent!”. Well, keep those words and use them even if the wealthy Lakshmi Mittal has invested in Otelul Galati less than a tenth of the fortune spent when his daughter got married. The club that was going to buy the cream of the crop in Romania and maybe even land several big names from abroad was left on a survival budget on the hands of the experienced Marius Stan. And the president did a wonderful job, proving his outstanding ability to spot and recruit players from the lower leagues, who went on to become regulars not just at club level, but also solutions for the youth national teams. Ok, he did worse when it came to signing players from abroad, his search for a top goalkeeper, for example, bringing in Liga I top “entertainers”, but even this ended last season, when Otelul landed for peanuts the consistent Branko Grahovac. Read more…
Universitatea Cluj – Gloria Bistrita 2-1 (Cl. Niculescu 41, Balde 68 / Ribeiro Moraes 50)
Rapid – CFR Cluj 2-0 (Cassio 58, 90)
Sportul Studentesc – Victoria Branesti 2-2 (T. Balan 1, Varga 10 pen / Olariu 21 pen, D. Popa 82)
Unirea Urziceni – Steaua 1-0 (Semedo 61)
FCM Targu Mures – Gaz Metan Medias 1-0 (Fl. Dan 27)
Astra Ploiesti – FC Timisoara 1-1 (Fatay 55 / Helder 75)
FC Vaslui – Otelul Galati 4-0 (Adailton 9, 55, Wesley 29, Pouga 70)
Pandurii Targu Jiu – Universitatea Craiova 3-1 (Orac 1, Apostu 23, 54 / V. Iliev 88)
Next round (17-20 September): Gaz Metan Medias – Universitatea Cluj, Victoria Branesti – Pandurii Targu Jiu, Universitatea Craiova – Rapid, Otelul Galati – Unirea Urziceni, FC Timisoara – Sportul Studentesc, CFR Cluj – FCM Targu Mures, Dinamo – FC Vaslui, Gloria Bistrita – FC Brasov, Steaua – Astra Ploiesti.
Transfer deadline day in Romania. Did Balotelli really sign for Man. City or FC Brasov has a chance to get him?
Can Steaua also take the corner flags from Unirea Urziceni’s arena, after signing half of its team? Is Dinamo ready to sign at least one decent defender? Could Rapid waste another million on a useless Portuguese striker? Did Mandorlini manage to bring all his 35 years old favorite Italian players? If you’re dying to know the answers, forget about Sky Sport’s special reports and keep on coming back. You’ll be surprised how many superstars can be signed on a free transfer in a single day!
18.46 Buying from Serie A isn’t the best idea. Adrian Pit, making his debut for Universitatea Cluj, got sent off in just 10 minutes: a dive + a foul.
17.55 Love always wins! Vasile Maftei has reached an agreement with his former club, but now can only hope that Rapid will do the same with Unirea Urziceni, who has a cash-loving-owner. As I said: love always wins! Read more…
Andrea Mandorlini (CFR Cluj), Lopez Caro (FC Vaslui), Vladimir Petrovic (FC Timisoara). Big names, high wages, scary anti-sacking clauses. What’s to be done once they get their teams into deep trouble? Well, Timisoara’s Marian Iancu always liked to look tough in the media, CFR’s Arpad Paszkany plays the old “Backing the coach” trick and looks very supportive (until he finds a replacement), while FC Vaslui’s Adrian Porumboiu has no other option than to beg the former Real Madrid to leave the team without asking for more than a couple of hundred thousand Euros. Not a good moment to be in charge of a club, right?
Mandorlini, saved by last season’s trophies. But not for long…
CFR won the league and the Romanian Cup with him on the bench, but the team rarely offered convincing displays, struggling to adjust to a 4-3-3 that looked good on paper, but poor on the pitch. With the whole summer ahead of him and the chance to create a roster according to his plans, Mandorlini failed once again to impose his ideas. Important changes took place in the team, but CFR kept on switching between a 4-3-3 and a 4-3-1-2, in the first rounds that left the impression that Mandorlini needed a few more friendly matches, in order to make the team click. Six rounds gone and the champions are in mid-table, with the humiliating 0-3 defeat suffered against a newly promoted, Sportul Studentesc, still hurting a lot of egos in Cluj. Read more…
After putting together a good team at Steaua – 14 buys during the summer – which Ilie Dumitrescu almost eliminated from Europe, with his defensive approach in Zurich, Victor Piturca took his staff to Craiova, where he signed a three years long deal.
Universitatea’s huge and passionate fan base has every reason to celebrate (around 3.000 fans watched the team’s first training session), but the new manager was wise cautious enough to calm everyone down, looking nervous, pessimist and overpreoccupied, as always. Still, this means nothing to the supporters that had to go through a lot in recent years, facing relegation and having to spend a lot of time in Severin, far from their beloved stadium, “Ion Oblemenco”. With Piturca back in town, their dreams can must come through: they should start beating the crap out of Steaua, Dinamo and Rapid, which is far more important than winning the league or the Romanian Cup. Which should come as a natural consequence and will look very pretty in the club’s trophy room, next to the four championships and six cups, if everything goes right. And why shouldn’t it go right? Read more…
Fourth place last season wasn’t that bad, considering the poor quality of the team and the huge conflict between the fans and the club’s owner, but Gigi Becali realized that he needs to change not for Steaua’s sake, but thinking about the lost money in recent years, where he dictated everything at the club, making a mockery of what still is the team with the biggest fan base in Romania. That’s why he accepted Victor Piturca’s conditions, including the toughest of all: keeping his big huge mouth shut. The former national team coach took up the manager’s role – Premier League style – supervising the training sessions conducted by Eugen Neagoe, former Pandurii coach, bringing back former Steaua players and offering them jobs in the youth academy, installing Emerich Ienei (the man that brought Steaua the biggest European trophy in 1986) as club president, getting the fans back in the stands and behind the team. He did so many important things for the club that missing out on the title this season shouldn’t matter that much. But I’m sure this is unacceptable for the ambitious Piturca…
Players in: Stanislav Angelov (central midfielder, 32, Energie Cottbus), Iasmin Latovlevic (left back, 24, FC Timisoara), Cosmin Matei (central attacking midfielder, 19, Farul Constanta), Geraldo Alves (central defender, 30, AEK Athens), Yordan Todorov (right back, 29, Lokomotiv Plovdiv), Novak Martinovic (central defender, 25, Pandurii), Alexandru Pacurar (central midfielder, 29, Pandurii), Razvan Stanca (goalkeeper, 31, Pandurii), Florin Gardos (central defender, 22, Concordia Chiajna), Dorel Stoica (central defensive midfielder, 32, El Ettifaq), Mihai Radut (central attacking midfielder, 20, International Curtea de Arges), Octavian Abrudan (central midfielder, 26, FC Brasov).
Players out: Arman Karamyan (forward, 31, released), Artiom Karamyan (left midfielder, 31, released), Petre Marin (left back, 37 , Unirea Urziceni), Zhivko Zhelev (central defender, 31, Inter Baku), Gora Tall (central defender, 25, APOP Kinyras – loan expired), Pepe Moreno (striker, 29, Independiente – loan expired), Pawel Golanski (right back, 28, released), Stelios Parpas (central defender, 25, AEL Limassol), Ovidiu Petre (central defensive midfielder, 28, Al Nasr), Alexandru Tudose (central defender, 23, Gloria Bistrita), Juan Toja (left midfielder, 25, Aris Salonic).
Massive changes in Ghencea, where Piturca wanted and had every reason to create a new team. Among the rare important losses is Ovidiu Petre, but the manager had on the anchorman role his favorite player already lined-up, Dorel Stoica. For the rest, he went on to bring on a mixture of young & promising players like Radut and experienced guys like Angelov, which proves that his goal is building a new squad, without sacrificing this season’s trophies at stake. Interesting fact, Steaua relies on the same forwards from last year, even though Pantelis Kapetanos doesn’t seem to fit the lone striker’s profile preferred by Piturca, which means that Bogdan Stancu should enjoy the best season of his career and start fulfilling his potential. But what if he doesn’t or gets injured? Back to the Greek one more time? What does this guy has to do – this year, against all odds, got to play in the World Cup! – in order to start a season as the number one choice for the centre-forward role?
- Coach: Victor Piturca (new)
- Preferred system: 4-1-4-1
- Ideal first eleven: Tatarusanu – Emeghara, Abrudan, Geraldo Alves, Latovlevici – Stoica – Nicolita, Radut, Angelov, Tanase – B. Stancu
- Reliable subs: Stanca (goalkeeper), Pacurar (central midfielder), Szekely (right winger), Kapetanos (centre forward).
- Key player: Dorel Stoica. Able to play in central defense, the 32 years old was convinced by Piturca to sign for Steaua, even when the manager wasn’t sure that he’ll return to Ghencea. Deployed in front of the back four, Stoica has the ability and the experience to protect not just the back four, but also the “front four”, as the line of midfielders will have to think how to open up the opposition’s defense, not be afraid that a missed pass or a miscontrolled ball could expose their own defense. In his own half, Stoica will win balls in the air, shut down channels, anticipate the midfielders looking to drop into space, but once Steaua regains possession, he will organize the build up, draw the back four as high as possible and eventually pose a threat with his long shots, especially from free kicks.
- Underrated player: Pantelis Kapetanos. The Greek isn’t a pleasure to watch, I agree, but he’s been a very prolific scorer even when Steaua was playing miserably – I wonder what he could do in a team that has superior possession and creative midfielders able to increase the number of scoring opportunities. His presence at the World Cup will keep him out of the team in the first month, but once “Kape” is fit, Stancu’s age and (unfulfilled) potential won’t be enough to keep him in the first eleven, ahead of this modest, hard-working and effective front man.
- Liability: Ciprian Tatarusanu. Promising, definitely gifted, looks to me like the kind of keeper that will need to turn 30 to be really something. But I might judge the guy a bit too hard and based mainly on last season’s performances, when Steaua’s defense was a joke.
What to expect:
A serious title challenge from a club offered by its clown of an owner to a very ambitious manager, Victor Piturca, who changed absolutely everything at Steaua and now it’s only a matter of time until the results will show that this is the way to run a successfull team. It will be hard to win the title right away, mainly because the league changed a lot in recent years and this isn’t just an affair between the Bucharest sides, but the fact that all the other title contenders point towards Steaua when asked who’s the favorite proves that the name still weights enough to crush the clubs that only recently enjoyed the sweet taste of success.
After a mad season, with no less than seven clubs involved in the title race for a very long period, which confirmed that the Bucharest clubs have been outclassed in recent years by teams like CFR Cluj, Unirea Urziceni, FC Timisoara or FC Vaslui, we can expect something similar for the competition that begins today. Even though Timisoara and Dinamo were discrete on the transfer market, which could be said as well about Unirea Urziceni, we have the same number of interested teams in the biggest trophy, but we should see if the big spenders have been wise spenders. Money will make the difference, that’s for sure, and I’m not saying that just because the referees will be paid cash, right after the end of a game, but because it will prove very difficult in this financial crisis to pay the players and staff on time and keep everybode happy and focused.
The biggest problems will appear at the smaller clubs that should live on enthusiasm in the first couple of months, but we’ll probably see a huge gap in the standings really soon. We lack “mid-table” clubs this season, with only Otelul Galati and Gaz Metan Medias good enough to stay safe from relegation and look ahead, not over the shoulder, and unlike those tricked by Otelul’s good run from the second half of last season, I expect Gaz Metan to be the surprise package and maybe even push for an European spot.
The newly promoted clubs are FCM Targu Mures, Victoria Branesti, Sportul Studentesc and Universitatea Cluj. The first two have the biggest chances of an immediate return to the second division, while Sportul rely on a nice group of players (similar to the one relegated after an excellent season in Liga I, due to financial issues) and Universitatea Cluj invested a lot of money in several new faces and has an amazing fan base. Fighting for survival we will also see Universitatea Craiova, Pandurii Targu Jiu (who kept their place in the league only after International’s retirement), Astra Ploiesti and Gloria Bistrita.
Here’s the first round of the season:
- Sportul Studentesc – Otelul Galati
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – Unirea Urziceni
- Rapid Bucharest – FC Vaslui
- Universitatea Craiova – CFR Cluj
- FC Timisoara – Gloria Bistrita
- Universitatea Cluj – Steaua Bucharest
- Astra Ploiesti – Dinamo Bucharest
- FCM Targu Mures – FC Brasov
- Victoria Branesti – Gaz Metan Medias
For those interested, the games are broadcasted on GSP TV, Digi Sport and Antena 1 (I’ll post more details, if requested).