Archive for September, 2010

It’s a forward’s right to be selfish?

September 29, 2010 1 comment

That is THE question, after Traore decided to go for personal glory on the Olimpico, refusing to offer Culio the chance to score his third game against AS Roma, after the wonderful brace from two years ago, and maybe denying his team the chance to get another great result in the Champions League.

Arsenal, Galatasaray, Hamburg, Udinese, Napoli, Liverpool. All these clubs have been linked with „CFR’s jewel”, as the club’s president likes to speak of Lacina Traore, the big forward who offered last night, against AS Roma, the kind of display that justifies both an affirmative and a negative answer to the above question. At 0-0, he had enough luck to evade Nicolas Burdisso, but, instead of offering an assist to Juan Culio, in a situation that demanded such a decision, chose to take a shot at goal, hitting the crossbar. He would go on to offer a solid display, tormenting Roma’s defenders with his rare combination of pace, strength and skill, hitting the bar once more with a powerful left footed effort from just outside the box and getting deserved praise from Claudio Ranieri, yet I feel we should get back to that key moment that defines a 20 years old who’s at a turning point in his career.

“I am not mad at Traore. A forward needs to be selfish!” – Arpad Paszkany, CFR’s owner

“I’ve already told my players that the guy who will go for the shot instead of a pass, in a similar play to Traore’s, can kiss his salary good-bye for the following three months” – Victor Piturca, former national team coach, now at Universitatea Craiova

Lacina Traore, a forward who likes to celebrate alone. Photo from

Ok, some agree that forwards need to get their share of shot at/on goal (Cristiano Ronaldo took 58 shots at goal so far, scoring just twice in La Liga!) and there are top professionals who’d like to remind everyone that football is a team’s sport. So, maybe it’s right to work a bit on the question at hand and come up with another one: “How selfish can one football player be?”. Read more…

Round 9 – results, scorers, standings and highlights

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Rapid and Universitatea Craiova’s comfortable wins saved a round dominated by tight games and Italian results. Rapid dismantled the newly promoted from Branesti and, after the 5-0 Cup win from last Tuesday, continued to score at will, taking advantage of some eye-catching passing game that allows Sumudica’s men to create lots of scoring chances, especially when they play at home. Playing away from home looks easier for Piturca’s players, who took advantage of another very defensive approach from Targu Mures. The home team was coming from a wonderful 2-1 away win in Cluj, against CFR, but fielding again five defenders wasn’t the best idea from Ioan Ovidiu Sabau…
  • Astra Ploiesti recorded the first win of the season against Selymes’ ex-team, taking advantage of an error comitted by Patrascu, a midfielder with several years spent in Il Calcio, whose experience was expected to make a difference for Sportul. Obviously, to Sportul’s advantage…
  • The hot derby between Universitatea and CFR was won, as expected, by U’s fans, who travelled in numbers to Alba Iulia and offered an excellent show, hoping for a win after Niculescu’s sixth goal of the season, delivered from free-kick, as usual. Traore brought an equalizer and the two teams looked satisfied with the draw, a results which was on jeopardy only in the last 20 minutes, when Roberto De Zerbi came from the bench with appetite for football and a set of tricks that almost embarrassed the home team’s defense. Read more…

CFR should forget the dream and prepare for a nightmare

September 27, 2010 1 comment

“I’ll never forget that match, but I am ready to produce another similar performance. I think we could qualify from this group!” These are the words of the Argentinian Juan Emmanuel Culio,  the man who stunned Olimpico two years ago with a winning brace that probably delighted the bookmakers and offered CFR the right to dream in a group that also featured the mighty Chelsea and Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux. Should the world think twice before writing off the Romanian champions, ahead of Tuesday’s clash? Not really.

With Pereira gone to Porto and Muresan injured, Culio needs to deliver on his own

Even though Culio looks in decent shape, you can’t say the same about a team that will probably feature just four of the “heroes” that produced one of Champions League’s biggest surprises. Stancioiu should start in goal, the experienced Panin will play at right back, while team-captain Cadu will try to keep things tight at the back, an impossible mission looking at CFR’s recent games, including the 2-1 home win against FC Basel.

Leaving aside Sorin Cartu’s problems in finding a winning formula, the team suffered another huge blow on Friday, in the hot derby against Universitatea, losing the valuable Gabriel Muresan, the anchorman, a vital player in defense, a hard tackler in midfield and a good organizer when CFR’s in possession. With the Portuguese Dani recently sold, Cartu finds himself in a surprising position, knowing the number and the quality of players available in theory. He uses a centre-back as a left back, but the winning gamble on the massive Ionut Rada from the first match might soon be regretted, will have to shuffle his cards in midfield, moving Emil Dica and Emmanuel Culio from the flanks (where they played on Friday) into the middle, as the Argentinian Sixto Peralta has not been registered for this competition, which also happened to the often decisive striker Cristi Bud. Read more…

Who wants a coach like Dan Petrescu? Well, who doesn’t?

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

His decision to leave Unirea Urziceni, after he managed to break Romania’s record of points collected by a club in the Champions League’s groups stage and ahead of a challenging double with Liverpool, was considered at least strange. And certainly money-orientated, as Kuban Krasnodar was ready to spend millions on wages and transfers, in its attempt to achieve promotion in Russia’s first division. My bet is that Petrescu knew what was going to happen to Unirea, felt disappointed by the Ferderation’s choice to appoint Razvan Lucescu in charge and would have have had a difficult time topping what he achieved with a small club, if he was to take over another Romanian team.

SuperDan, a top coach not just by Romanian standards. Photo from

Read more…

Shameful Cup exit for FC Vaslui, the latest “achievement” for Lopez Caro’s men

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment
  • The sixth round of the Romanian Cup was kicked off on Tuesday, with a commanding display from Rapid Bucharest, who should get credit for this results, considering the level of their opponents, Petrolul Ploiesti, currently leading in the second division, with four wins out of four, and a team packed with experienced players and some quality youngtsers. But Rapid looks well organized at the back and can fuel the front men from the wings with so many quality balls that the strikers’ names and form aren’t that important.
  • The shock result of the round came on Wednesday, when FC Vaslui lost the momentum gained in the last two league matches (4-0 against Otelul, 2-1, away, at Dinamo), losing in front of ALRO Slatina, a mediocre second division outfit. Lopez Caro, who was very close to find some peace after the latest results, is back in deep trouble, having fielded a strong enough team, which included the likes of Kuciak, Milanov, Adailton and Wesley. Read more…

Round 8 – results, scorers, highlights and standings

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment
  • The Brazilian playmaker Eric de Oliveira scored his eigth goal of the season and showed the way to victory for this impressive little team, brilliantly guided by Cristi Pustai. The former maths teacher fielder a striker-free first eleven, with the small attacking midfielders Eric and Muntean roaming around upfront, combining quickly and speculating the lack of pace and agility from Universitatea’s centre-backs.
  • Two teams in need of points grabbed vital wins, Victoria punishing Pandurii’s laid back atitude after their impressive win from the previous round, while Targu Mures produced the surprise of the round with a 2-1 away win against the champion club (the first win under new manager, Ioan Ovidiu Sabau), thanks to some terrible defending in the last 10 minutes and their most dangerous weapon: the ability to speculate set plays.
  • Rapid got a deceiving away draw against Universitatea, in a tensed match that the hosts could have won. Without Costin Lazar, the guests failed to produce the same number of goalscoring opportunities and needed a bit of help from the ref, who said “sorry” for a harsh red card shown to Ovidiu Herea (his second of the season!) awarding a bit later an imaginary penalty. Read more…

Leaders for a week, hard working players for the rest of the season – updated

September 20, 2010 1 comment

Otelul’s promising start of the season has just become magnificent. If Arles-Avignon had gained promotion in Ligue I last season, motivated by an article that tipped them for a quick return in the French third division pinned to the dressing-room wall, then Dorinel Munteanu should find useful this Top 5, even Steaua has one game in hand and will probably use it tonight, to top the standings.

Marius Stan, a man with an eye for young players and excellent deals

Now that you’ve seen this and have been busy watching real professional football since 2006,  when the club’s new ownership, Mittal Steel, was announcing its’ intent to build “a Romanian Chelsea” (a project Dan Petrescu was going to implement, in the meantime, with Unirea Urziceni, using though just a couple of million Euros), you might look at the standings and say “Now that’s an example of money well spent!”. Well, keep those words and use them even if the wealthy Lakshmi Mittal has invested in Otelul Galati less than a tenth of the fortune spent when his daughter got married. The club that was going to buy the cream of the crop in Romania and maybe even land several big names from abroad was left on a survival budget on the hands of the experienced Marius Stan. And the president did a wonderful job, proving his outstanding ability to spot and recruit players from the lower leagues, who went on to become regulars not just at club level, but also solutions for the youth national teams. Ok, he did worse when it came to signing players from abroad, his search for a top goalkeeper, for example, bringing in Liga I top “entertainers”, but even this ended last season, when Otelul landed for peanuts the consistent Branko Grahovac. Read more…

Round 7 – results, scorers, highlights and standings

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Universitatea Cluj – Gloria Bistrita 2-1 (Cl. Niculescu 41, Balde 68 / Ribeiro Moraes 50)
Rapid – CFR Cluj 2-0 (Cassio 58, 90)
Sportul Studentesc – Victoria Branesti 2-2 (T. Balan 1, Varga 10 pen / Olariu 21 pen, D. Popa 82)
Unirea Urziceni – Steaua 1-0 (Semedo 61)
FCM Targu Mures
– Gaz Metan Medias 1-0 (Fl. Dan 27)
Astra Ploiesti – FC Timisoara 1-1 (Fatay 55 / Helder 75)
FC Vaslui – Otelul Galati 4-0 (Adailton 9, 55, Wesley 29, Pouga 70)
Pandurii Targu Jiu
– Universitatea Craiova 3-1 (Orac 1, Apostu 23, 54 / V. Iliev 88)

Liga I - Standings

Next round (17-20 September): Gaz Metan Medias – Universitatea Cluj, Victoria Branesti – Pandurii Targu Jiu, Universitatea Craiova – Rapid, Otelul Galati – Unirea Urziceni, FC Timisoara – Sportul Studentesc, CFR Cluj – FCM Targu Mures, Dinamo – FC Vaslui, Gloria Bistrita – FC Brasov, Steaua – Astra Ploiesti.

Sorin Cartu promises attacking football from CFR Cluj. But not tonight…

September 15, 2010 1 comment

Cartu gives credit to Romanian players against Basel

The man’s nickname is Sorinaccio and that’s the perfect description of a coach who could have inspired The Special One, ahead of the (in)famous Barcelona – Inter Milano. Asked to step in and ensure survival for several small clubs, in recent years, he went to CFR labelled as a ultra-defensive coach, but ready to prove everyone wrong. In his first press conference, he spoke about his intentions to build an attacking team, deployed in his favorite 4-4-2, and we can agree that he has what it takes to do it, only by looking at his offensive weapons. Mandorlini’s hard to explain transfer policy brought together no less than six natural strikers: besides Lacina Traore, Yssouf Kone and Cristian Bud, CFR signed Sasa Bjelanovic, Ferdinando Sforzini and Anselmo Ramon. Only three of them are fit right now, Traore, Bud and Sforzini, while Bud’s unjust omission should “help” the new coach to make a cautious approach, at his debut in the Champions League. Read more…

Dumitrescu keen to build “his Steaua”, but forced to play in Europe with Piturca’s team

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

There was a hot debate regarding the credit that Ilie Dumitrescu deserves for Steaua’s results, with a team assembled during the summer by Victor Piturca. It ended quickly and in the least expected moment, after a game that registered an outcome that speaks about the beauty and unpredictability of the game: Unirea Urziceni won 1-0, fielding the likes of Musat, Muzac, Lupu or Tosca, youngsters loaned from Steaua’s reserves, to make up for the loss of Brandan, Galamaz, Bilasco, Apostol or Onofras, all used by Dumitrescu, in the Saturday’s and the season’s biggest surprise.

Steaua's losing eleven against Unirea Urziceni

It’s hard to explain Dumitrescu’s choice for a first eleven that had the ball 70% of the time, but couldn’t find a way past the last mohicans: Maftei, Nicu, Todoran or Paduretu. If pairing Bilasco upfront with Stancu made some sense, as the two had played a game together for the national team, offering a start to Brandan was wrong, as the Argentinian, as good and as experienced as he is, had joined Steaua with just two days before the game! Steaua was only starting to get some cohesion in a first eleven that will have to be used in Europa League, as only Apostol and Ricardo Gomes (of all the players brought from Unirea) have been registered for the competition, and Dumitrescu would have been at least less exposed to criticism, if he had limited his implants to replacing key injured players like Tanase or Kapetanos. Now, he comes after a shocking result and has sent the wrong signal to the likes of Abrudan, Angelov, Surdu and Nicolita, who realized that their playing time will be severely limited once the European adventure is over. It’s going to be interesting to see Steaua against Liverpool, and, chances are – depending of Hodgson’s care for the Anfield idols – that it’s going to get ugly, if the Reds will field a strong formation. Read more…

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