Russia tops the group on goal difference, having the same number of points with Romania, 21, with just two matches to go, and Emil Sandoi’s youngsters stand in with a chance that seems bigger than ever to make it into a final tournament. Here’s the selected team, including the replacements for Paul Parvulescu (Gaz Metan Medias) and Cosmin Gangioveanu (Universitatea Craiova), who suffered injuries during the weekend:
Goalkeepers: Cezar Lungu (Steaua II), Silviu Lung Jr. (Universitatea Craiova)
Defenders: Cornel Rapa (Otelul Galati), Alexandru Matel (Astra Ploiesti), Valerica Gaman (Universitatea Craiova), Paul Papp (FC Vaslui), Florin Gardos (Steaua), Vlad Chiriches (Pandurii)
Midfielders: Stefan Barboianu (Universitatea Craiova), Andrei Ionescu (Steaua), Eric Bicfalvi (Steaua), Ionut Neagu (Otelul Galati), Ioan Hora (CFR Cluj), Dragos Firtulescu (Universitatea Craiova), Liviu Antal (Otelul Galati), Marius Alexe (Dinamo), Gheorghe Grozav (Standard Liege)
Forwards: Sabrin Sburlea (Rapid), Liviu Ganea (Dinamo), Mihai Costea (Universitatea Craiova), Alexandru Ionita (FC Koln), Raul Rusescu (Unirea Urziceni)
When Astra Ploiesti announced the transfer of three players from last season’s runner-up, Unirea Urziceni, it all looked very strange, especially with a certain George Galamaz (team captain, national team player) among them. A week later, the deal that had been announced even on Astra’s official website was off: Gigi Becali, Steaua’s owner, who had to receive around 4 million Euros from Dumitru Bucsaru, discussed a deal that makes the Bucharest club extremely well-equipped for a title race that looks less demanding than in the past three seasons. Six players will move to Ghencea: George Galamaz (central defender), Ricardo Gomes (central midfielder), Iulian Apostol (central midfielder), Laurentiu Marinescu (attacking midfielder), Marius Onofras (forward), Marius Bilasco (centre forward). Number seven is still in talks with Steaua, but is definitely worth waiting for: Pablo Brandan, the Argentinian left back who was so close to VFB Stuttgart last winter and waited in vain for an offer from abroad, which, surprisingly, didn’t arrive. This extraordinary move on the transfer market comes as a blow for Steaua’s rivals, who had already enough problems on their own, but brings good news especially for Universitatea Craiova, where Victor Piturca gets an unexpected gift: some of the players brought by him to Ghencea this summer are available either for free (Todorov) or for low fees (Dorel Stoica – 100.000 Euros).
Linked with clubs like Newcastle, Eintracht Frankfurt or Brescia, all summer long, Dinamo’s top scorer from last season is very close to a move to 2. Bundesliga. According to the Romanian media – with the reports confirmed with discretion by the player himself -, Karlsruhe offered around 400.000 Euros for a one year loan, having the option to make the deal permanent for one million Euros next summer, and the Red Dogs have every reason to accept such a bid:
- The veteran Ionel Danciulescu returned from Spain, Marius Niculae is the team’s captain, while the young talented Alexe, Torje and Liviu Ganea need to have maximum of exposure this season, hoping that the high-scoring games will get them on the score-sheet often enough to get the much craved attention from abroad.
- Cristea comes after his best season in Liga I in terms of efficiency, having scored 16 goals in 27 appearances, and it’s unlikely to repeat such a feat.
- He’s not the most popular player in the squad, since he realized close to the end of last season that he needs to think about himself rather than the team, working hard to end the previous campaign as the league’s top scorer. His attitude didn’t change during the summer break and he was involved in an incident two rounds ago, when he insisted to take a penalty, even though the team’s specialist, N’Doye was on the pitch. Read more…
It’s a strange and delicate moment for a player with an impressive career close to the end, as Cosmin Contra, the former AC Milan and Atletico Madrid full-back, who also played an UEFA Cup final with Getafe, could be out of contract starting the first day of September. FC Timisoara, his beloved team, the club that tried so much to convince him to return to Romania, didn’t even try to have a conversation with the player on this subject. The story became public right before the second game against Manchester City, when Contra had announced that the derby versus Steaua could be his last official appearance. I guess he wasn’t expecting then to come on in the second half, score a wonderful equalizer and get a call up to the national team… Well, with or without a contract at club level, Contra has every chance to add two more caps to the 72 collected so far, as he’s been asked to replace the injured Cristian Sapunaru and should fight for a place at right back with Ovidiu Dananae.
Romania’s squad for the double against Albania (home) and Republic of Belarus (away): 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…