Romania looked solid, well organized, hard working. And lost…
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.
Defenders: Dananae – Tamas – Chivu – Rat. This is THE back four, nothing can change. There’s no one coming from behind on the flanks (maybe Sapunaru on the right, if he starts playing for FC Porto), while in central defense Lucescu prefers Tamas and Chivu, for their composure and good understanding. Galamaz is, in my opinion, National Team material, but it’s difficult for him to break this partnership. Should be the main choice to replace the suspended Chivu for Romania’s first official game, though.
Midfielders: Cocis – Radoi – Florescu – Deac. Radoi is the “midfield general”, with his focus on defense and organizing the build-up, but Romania badly misses offensive, creative players. Florescu tries to play box-to-box, but has obvious limits especially when he crosses the midfield line, Lucescu looking determined to prove that the Alania midfielder is a winning bet. For the central zone, we’ll always have ready CFR’s Gabi Muresan, mature and consistent, as the ideal anchorman, while in Florescu’s shoes would do a lot better the underrated Lazar from Rapid or the talented Radut from Steaua. But I doubt that Lucescu Jr. has inherited the courage to promote youngsters during a decisive campaign for his future as NT coach.
Forwards: Bilasco – Daniel Niculae. In a team that struggles to create chances, to play through passes or bring the ball inside the box without crossing it, Bilasco (or a player with similar qualities, which we lack at the moment, given Marius Niculae’s lack of form) is indispensable. The question is who should partner him upfront and I tend to vote in favor of Daniel Niculae, as Marica has been overrated by Mircea Lucescu when he transferred him at Shakthar, failing eversince to keep up with the rising of his market value in terms of quality. Another option for the second striker role could be Steaua’s Bogdan Stancu, who had an excellent start of season under Piturca, but will have to adjust to a new position under Ilie Dumitrescu, either behind the centre forward or on the left wing, in a 4-2-3-1.
Looking at Romania’s first eleven used against Turkey, there’s a feeling of balance, concentration and desire to help one another in a generation of players that is yet to prove its value. Unfortunately, the balance exists even in terms of problems, as Dananae’s average performance on the right was matched on the left side of the midfield line, from where Deac had to be moved, switching places with the versatile Cocis. Lucescu’s 4-4-2 looked good at times while in possession, but there’s an obvious tendency within the team to come back in numbers rather than push forward. It could prove helpful in the tough games, but how are we going to win those against the lower rated teams?