Unirea Urziceni forced to leave behind five midfielders, ahead of the trip to Sankt Petersburg
After three consecutive 0-0’s, the latest at home, against Rapid Bucharest, Unirea Urzceni doesn’t look at all capable of producing the surprise againt Zenit. Forget the first leg, dominated by Spalletti’s players, Levy’s men look very tired after three difficult matches in seven days, which should have been used to find a top shape and gain quickly match fitness, in order to match the Russian side. And, if things didn’t look bad enough, Unirea lost Sorin Paraschiv, who sustained an injury in the first half and he joins a long list of unavailable central midfielders: Paduretu (suspended), Apostol, Ricardo (injured), Todoran (not registered).
Levy’s options become very limited, in this case: for the anchorman role, he’ll have to change the back four, with Vasile Maftei and Pablo Brandan, the only options to cover this position. Maftei should be first choice, as he could give an extra hand in central defence, but Levy could also take into account the fact that no other centre-back has featured this season and keep the same pair in the middle, while putting the experienced Valeriu Bordeanu at left back and free Brandan for this empty slot. The Argentinian plays well as a central defensive midfielder, but only did it in a 4-2-3-1, never alone, in a 4-1-4-1.
Although important, Levy’s choice will count for nothing unless Unirea’s players can pull yet another miraculous effort. And I doubt this will happen, as, without a natural central midfielder in the first eleven, Unirea will have to field a lot more offensive players than they would have liked, with the line of four midfielders most likely to be formed by Semedo (winger), Onofras (second striker), Marinescu (attacking midfielder) and Frunza (winger) – all offensive players, totally ineffective in pressing, tackling and tracking back their opponents. I expect an easy second leg for Zenit and a profitable one for those who already can’t wait to see the odds for this game.