Politehnica Iasi – Rapid Bucharest
Favorite on paper, due to the massive difference in terms of points, value and aspirations, Rapid received only good news lately, regarding their first opponent in 2010. Besides their problems with unpaid debts (including the players’s wages for the past two-three months), the hosts are presenting a very long injury list, which should only increase the gap in terms of quality that separates these two teams.
Poli will miss the following key players: Branet (first choice goalkeeper), Munteanu (team captain, regular starter, either as a central defender or as a left back), Ilie (regular starter, central defender or central defensive midfielder), Ignatov (regular starter, Bulgarian central midfielder), Constantin (one of the main offensive threats, left winger) and Balba (rotation player, striker).
Rapid has not just a more valuable roster, but also far less injury problems, with doubts over the involvement of Sapunaru and Gauracs, but both are new players and the Bucharest side didn’t lose the regular starters from the first half of season. They’re well equipped all over the pitch, with several new choices in midfield and attack, where Cesinha and Iordache should make it hard for coach Nae Manea to choose the supporting players for the lone striker that would be Ionita, the centre-forward bought by FC Koln in exchange of 2,5 mil. EUR, but who’ll stay at Rapid until the end of the season.
The only problem is that the pitch conditions (which could be terrible – soft, muddy pitch) could seriously affect the players’ performance and even the game’s outcome, but as Poli didn’t train on the home ground to protect it as much as possible, in the end, this could be yet another unexpected bonus for Rapid.
The match will be player on Saturday, starting 18.00 CET.