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Archive for August, 2010

Steaua’s surprises for Grasshoppers

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Steaua's tactics versus Victoria Branesti

Ilie Dumitrescu’s debut on Steaua’s bench came with two changes in the first eleven, both easy to anticipate. Pantelis Kapetanos, considered a key player by Dumitrescu, was handed his first start of the season, even though the Greek’s performance proved that he’s quite short of match fitness. “Kape” missed three good chances to score, but was the one that suffered the invisible foul inside the box that eventually decided the game and helped a lot during the game with his intelligent movement, creating channels for the excellent Bogdan Stancu, pulled back in a role that hasn’t affected his impressive efficiency from this start of season. Another player to get a first appearance in the red and blue outfit was the Brazilian right back Bonfim, appreciated for his offensive approach, but quite inconsistent in defense. Read more…

Round 4 – results, scorers, highlights and standings

August 17, 2010 1 comment
  • Gaz Metan Medias topping the standings is something even I wasn’t expecting, although I predicted a good season from this well organized team. The Brazilian Eric de Oliveira scored his 7th goal in 4 matches (a wonderful free kick) and left the field with 20 minutes to go, losing the chance to try and make it four consecutive braces in this outstanding start of season!
  • "Munti", a fan of tactical discipline, brave enough to field several young players

    Another small team tipped to do well, Otelul Galati, added an important win against the newly promoted FCM Targu Mures, and Dorinel Munteanu’s keeper, Grahovac, is the only one in the league with four clean sheets. Impressive!

  • Things are going very bad for Unirea Urziceni, though, who’s yet to score a goal this season, and worrying for CFR Cluj, held to a draw at home by a team that will struggle to avoid relegation this season. Good debut from the Brazilian Rafael Bastos, though, who could play an important part this season, as the missing playmaker. The problem is that Mandorlini keeps on looking for the best tactical setup & formation, which is unacceptable, in my opinion, after almost a year in charge. Read more…

FC Timisoara’s tactics against Manchester City. My pleasure, Roberto!

August 16, 2010 1 comment

Timisoara snatched a point on Sunday evening in the dying moments of the away game at Universitatea Craiova, thanks to Ianis Zicu, and it’s pretty clear who are the 13-14 players that will have the honor to fight with the Citizens, hoping to produce another European miracle.

FC Timisoara's first eleven in the last two games

Yesterday, it became clear that Vladimir Petrovic realized that his plans to build an offensive team need to be adjusted, that his eleven needs balance, otherwise it will be severely punished, just like it happened in the very dubious first half against MyPa, when his back four was so exposed that the hosts were 3-0 up after 45 minutes. The key to Timisoara’s spectacular return was Alexandru Bourceanu, a central midfielder nicknamed Gattuso, whose impressive work-rate is vital in covering the spaces, breaking up attacks and linking up the play. He was among the starters in the impressive 3-2 win against CFR Cluj, as well as in last evening’s game, and the Viola were punished only after a childish mistake from Srdjan Luchin. Universitatea struggled to create chances, while at the other end the 20.000 fans withnessed as much as four dangerous shots in the space of two minutes, in one of Timisoara’s raids forward. Ok, the “drawing” goal came very late and based on some hazard and the hosts’ lack of experience, but this was the fourth time in as many league games when Timisoara managed to come back from one or two goals down to earn a positive result! Read more…

Unirea Urziceni’s success story: how to make profit with a small football club

August 15, 2010 3 comments

The club’s discrete owner, Dumitru Bucsaru, earned over 20 million Euros since Unirea reached the Champions League’s group stage, in 2009. Why would he let the team fall apart then? Well, because he wouldn’t be able to dribble past the football’s rules one more time and make this kind of money with minimum investment and a club that lacks a proper stadium, a decent fan base and the vital revenue streams that keeps the ball spinning these days.

Unpaid players for months, lost chance to reach Champions League’s group stage, no money to re-establish order in a team everyone wants to abandon, starting with the general manager, Mihai Stoica, who already resigned. Not a pretty picture, that’s why we should look back and realize what this club has achieved and that this is just the ugly ending of a beautiful story. One that saw Unirea Urziceni move from the muddy 3rd division football to the glamour of Champions League in just six years, where the Wolves collected an impressive tally of 8 points in the same group with Seville, VFB Stuttgart and Glasgow Rangers – a record for Romanian football.

Unirea's 7.000 seats stadium, the venue that hosted a match against SV Hamburg, but couldn't qualify for the Champions League

Could all this have been done without massive investment in the team, could such a feat ignore year after year vital revenue streams like TV rights money, high gate receipts, numerous season tickets holders and the on and off matchday fans’ financial support? Affirmative! Read more…

Player of the round: Mircea Axente, FC Timisoara’s bet of the season

August 14, 2010 1 comment

Mircea Axente didn't waste time while he was away on loan

Name: Mircea Axente
Position: striker
Born: 1987
Height/Weight: 186 cm/75 kg
Club: FC Timisoara

4 goals in 5 matches is a promising return from a striker discovered by Timisoara six years ago, who was used to be sent on loan to smaller clubs, once the season was kicking off. This time, Axente speculated Timisoara’s discrete transfer campaign and caught the attention of Vladimir Petrovic, a coach who promised to give the team a more offensive approach. The 23 years old proved just the right man, although shuffled Pizon’s best attacking “cards”: Magera was pulled back as a central attacking midfielder, while the skilful Goga had to move on the right flank. Strong and tall enough to resist against tough opposition, Axente prefers a direct approach, based on quick turns and instinctive finishing from different positions. Good in the air, he’s quick and unpredictable enough in movement, capable to find just enough space and put both power and precision behind his shots. All these qualities were on display against CFR Cluj, the latest match influenced by Axente (hit the bar once, then scored a nice goal to make it 2-1), who has every reason to feature against Manchester City, in the Europa League playoff, a match he wouldn’t have dared to dream of when he was improving in the second division with CS Buftea or getting playing time in Liga I with Otelul Galati.

Player of the round: Eric de Oliveira, three braces in three rounds!

August 14, 2010 1 comment

Name: Eric de Oliveira Pereira
Position: central attacking midfielder
Born: 1985
Height/Weight: 176 cm/76 kg
Club: Gaz Metan Medias

As I expected, Gaz Metan looks prepared for a good season, under the guidance of the excellent Cristi Pustai. The addition of the promising Admir Aganovic and the chance offered to Paul Batin to prove himself in Liga I (bought by CFR after an oustanding season in the third division, played well last year in Liga 2 for UTA) should solve the striker’s problem, but, in the meantime, the Brazilian playmaker stepped up and bought the needed goals. Almost all of them, as Eric netted 6 of Gaz Metan’s 7 goals, with three consecutive braces! Last Sunday, he decided the difficult away game versus Astra, scoring from the spot for the opener and adding a second after a string of wasted opportunities. His excellent start of season will make it impossible for Gaz Metan to extend a deal that will expire next summer, a club that has no other option than pray that no one will meet the Brazilian’s very affordable release clause of 350.000 Euros and that Eric’s loyalty will keep him focused and determined, as long as he stays in Medias.

Lazio looking at Steaua’s Kapetanos. Looking for another Igli Tare?

August 14, 2010 1 comment

Pantelis Kapetanos, big man for the big games

According to gsp.ro, Lazio is looking for a strong centre-forward and the Greek is on a very short list, as the cheapest option, around 2 million Euros. Kapetanos has been a top player for Steaua, coming as a free agent two years ago and proving indispensable, scoring 26 goals in 54 appearances in Liga I. He is yet to feature this season, as he missed a big part of this summer’s training, being involved in the World Cup, and also because Steaua’s ex-coach, Victor Piturca, wanted a different type of player as the lone striker. Things look different now, though, as Ilie Dumitrescu, the new trainer, said that Kapetanos is one of the team’s four vital players and, without a replacement, he’s hoping that the Greek can stay fit throughout this campaign. The player is expected to start his first game on Monday, when Steaua plays the newly promoted Victoria Branesti, while I expect the player to stay put, in case of a 2 million Euros offer, given Dumitrescu’s strategy and Gigi Becali’s desperation to keep the new coach happy.

Funniest statement of the year

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Gigi Becali, talking about Helmuth Duckadam’s legendary performance from the 1986 European Champions Cup final, when he saved four of Barcelona’s five penalties:

“The Holy Spirit kept telling Duckadam: <Dive to your right, dive to your right!>”

Romania looked solid, well organized, hard working. And lost…

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

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.

Read more…

Same old, sorry, young story: unimpressive win from the U21

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Romania’s U21 added another win on Wednesday to a campaign that’s very close to the end, one that will be decided after the two encounters versus the group leaders, Russia. Sandoi’s youngsters scored the only goal of the match versus Moldova from the spot, Liviu Ganea converting the penalty awarded after a run from one of his colleagues from Dinamo, Gabriel Torje. Here’s Sandoi’s team – one that relied once again on an improvised left flank (Barboianu plays in central midfield, while Costea is a natural striker):

Lung Jr – Rapa, Gaman, Papp, Barboianu – Torje, Bicfalvi (Neagu 40), A. Ionescu, M. Costea (Gangioveanu 77) – L. Ganea, Ionita (Hora 55).

The group will decide its winner on the 3rd (Botosani) and 7th (St. Petersburg) of September, when Romania will play Russia, both teams having right now the same number of points, 21.

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