Dumitrescu keen to build “his Steaua”, but forced to play in Europe with Piturca’s team
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.
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.
Dumitrescu must recall Abrudan in central defense, who everyone saw on his way out, after Galamaz arrived from Unirea, and we should add poor morale and low confidence to an unexperienced centre-back at this level. Bicfalvi – one of the surprises of the season – is struggling to return to full fitness, but he should partner Angelov in central midfield, with Apostol (he’s not in top shape either!) ready to step in, if the U21 midfielder won’t make it. The best news for Dumitrescu’s attacking intent is Tanase’s recovery, who should return on the left wing, allowing Radut to move on the right and keep on the bench the out-of-form&favor Banel Nicolita. Steaua’s most valuable attacking player, Bogdan Stancu, should keep his place behind the lone striker, who could be either Kapetanos (vital for any decent attacking build-up) or Surdu (dangerous in away games, useful only for a counter-attacking strategy).
I expect an open game, as Steaua lacks the players to defend in numbers (Tanase, Radut or Stancu will probably do their job in pressing the midfielders, but aren’t the type to track-back and sit deep), with the slow defensive pair Abrudan – Geraldo troubled even by Liverpool’s reserve strikers. Add to this an unreliable Emeghara on the right side of the defense and you’ll get the picture of a penetrable back-four. And a heavy defeat in Europe, as predictable as it looks at this point, will only add further worries to a coach who will have to decide if should try and glue this inherited puzzle from Victor Piturca, in the next weeks, or give up on getting results in a tough group anyway and make Steaua’s body accept the organs acquired from the poor, yet honorable donor from Urziceni.