Victor Piturca selected 23 players for the midweek friendly versus Slovenia, 9 of them coming from abroad generally with problems at their clubs that could get a helping hand from this call-up. If Lazar, Papp, Rat and Stancu are enjoying a good status, Marica is on Schalke’s black list for some time, Lobont fights for a place on the bench, not between the sticks, Torje needs to impress on loan in La Liga, while Tamas has no idea if WBA’s change of manager will also change his fortune. Add to this the level of Liga I and the lack of outstanding performers over here and it could make some sense to think about players like Adrian Mutu or the retired Cristi Chivu.
Piturca explained that he’s still waiting for the two, but the striker needs to find himself a decent team and prove that he can reach a decent level of form, while Inter’s defender should come back on some recent statements that lead everyone to believe that he’s seriously considering a return to international football. If not all the fans/journos are excited about it – a view I personally don’t share -, Piturca certainly is, explaining that the current team needs someone to look up to and finally Chivu (and not Mutu!) is considered the sort of player and personality that fits the leader’s profile.
Here’s Romania’s squad for the friendly vs Slovenia:
Goalkeepers: Lobont (AS Rome), Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua), Silviu Lung Jr. (Astra)
Defenders: Papp (Chievo), Luchin, Grigore (Dinamo), Chiriches, Gardos, Latovlevici (Steaua), Tamas (WBA), Gaman (Astra), Rat (Shakhtar)
Midfielders: Torje (Granada), Roman (Rapid), Bourceanu, Tanase (Steaua), Lazar (PAOK), Cocis (FC Rostov)
Forwards: Niculae (FC Vaslui), Grozav (Petrolul), Marica (Schalke), Stancu (Orduspor)
That could be the conclusion of the awards offered today by the Romanian Football Federation and the Professional Football League, with one official game left to play in 2011. Here’s the list:
Best coach: Dorinel Munteanu (Otelul Galati)
Won the league with an average team judging by the players’ quality and, leaving aside some favorable calls from the referees that helped the team cope with the pressure applied by the followers towards the end of last season, Munteanu certainly has done something outstanding. Something that could be compared to what Unirea Urziceni achieved a few years ago. But maybe I should stop, as this would not do any favors to “the best Romanian coach in 2011”, considering the fact that Dan Petrescu’s team went on to collect a record eight points in the Champions League’s group stage, while Munteanu’s men failed to collect a single one…
Munteanu deserves it not just because there’s nobody else with something to show at the end of the year, but because he managed to take the best out of a mediocre team, to create the perfect tactics for the given group of players, to make everyone believe that winning the league is possible in Romania even if your only or, better said, main ability is to work harder than everyone else.
Best player in Liga I: Lucian Sanmartean (FC Vaslui)
Lately, I get the feeling that Romanian players are ready to move abroad only in their 30’s. Buying them with millions, hoping to make a profit, is a costly mistake, because those who indeed have the talent and the skill need around 10 years to get their heads straight and understand what’s this all about. That it’s a job. And it needs dedication. Plus a lot of work. Sanmartean is just an example. Not the best, because the attacking midfielder has had a lot of medical problems in the past and, without them, he could have made it while in Holland or Greece. He’s delivering now and the outstanding skill on the ball has made even Claudio Lotito ask around for his age, after Vaslui’s encounters with Lazio, in the Europa League. He’s too old, as the man was quickly informed, but that’s good news for Adrian Porumboiu, who was able to renew and extend the player’s contract, a proof that Vaslui will continue to aim high for at least two more years. Of course, if Sanmartean will stay fit :).
Best foreign player in Liga I: Wesley Lopes (FC Vaslui)
The Brazilian has become this year the best foreign scorer in Liga I and he definitely deserves the title, although very, very close to him I would place Rapid’s centre-back, Marcos Antonio. But this guy doesn’t score often enough and got no help from a team that always looked equipped to win something, but failed for some reason to also become, not just look successful. Also in his 30’s, Wesley forms alongside Sanmartean and Adailton the best offensive trio in Romania and he certainly deserves one of the highest (if not THE highest) wages in Romania. Talented and dedicated, this guy has an incredible eye for goal and it’s a bit of a surprise to hear rumors about a possible move to Steaua in the winter mercato. It’s not the first time he tries to leave Vaslui, but it’s certainly the first time the club’s owner looks willing to accept it…
- Best young player in Liga I: Cristian Balgradean (Dinamo Bucharest)
- Best referee: Cristian Balaj
- Best club president: Iuliu Muresan (CFR Cluj)
- Man of the year: Mihaita Nesu (FC Utrecht)
Interesting fact: not a single winner came to collect the award. Unfortunately, the unlucky, but incredibly brave Nesu has the best excuse of all…
Two foreign, well-paid centre forwards, Mike Temwanjera and Yero Bello, the once promising Razvan Neagu in stand-by, all supported by the best offensive trio in Liga I: Lucian Sanmartean-Wesley-Adailton. This was Vaslui’s impressive striking force expected to help the club respect what’s become a tradition: achieve a better place than in the previous season, with only two options left this term: 1st or 2nd place.
With 0 matches and, obviously, 0 goals in the top flight, Ionut Balaur, already 21 before the start of the current campaign, had the same chances to play and score. A paradox: lacking the numbers, he was there just for the numbers, yet the first occasion to make his debut at this level came sooner than everyone expected. He was going to play with the back at the goal, but not as the centre-forward he thought he was, but trying to cover for the numerous absences from central defense. The former Sporting and Juventus Brazilian, Gladstone, Paul Papp, the young international, Gabriel Canu – the skipper, all suffered long term injuries and the old dog Viorel Hizo was in a very difficult position, with games in the Europa League group stage waiting to give him nightmares in midweek as a bonus for the weekend head-aches. Hizo refused to look for a Mascherano though, was lacking a regular left-back anyway and couldn’t pick someone from the flanks, so he took a chance on the inexperienced big guy that was dreaming to score for Vaslui, not keep others like him from scoring.
He played in the league, but also in Europe, where Hizo’s men ar still in with a big chance to go through, with one game to go and, hopefully, to win. In some of the matches, this guy was all over the place. And I mean that in a good way. Enthusiastic, hard working, very effective in the air, decent on the ball. Losing his man at times, but never his head, as you’d have expected from a player with no experience against the likes of CS Mioveni or Concordia Chiajna, but who had to contain a certain Djibril Cisse on the “Olimpico”…
This guy made his debut in Liga I on the 13th of August and five days later he was starting against Sparta Prague, in the first and decisive leg of the double that allowed Vaslui to reach the Europa League group stage for the first time in the club’s 10 years existence. Two rounds ago, he was scoring the winner in the home game versus Pandurii Targu Jiu, while still playing in central defense. Unfortunately for him, all this won’t make a hell of a difference. Paul Papp and Gladstone are finally back from injury, the team’s striking options remain rich enough, so life should get back to normal for the young centre-forward&back, a role destined only for those who are willing to give it all when time comes, even though the only reward that awaits is a regular place on the bench…
P.S. For the record, Vaslui’s official website doesn’t even include Ionut Balaur in the first team’s page…
- JULIANO SPADACIO – Rapid Bucharest
- Lucian Sanmartean – FC Vaslui
- Sixto Peralta – CFR Cluj
- Eric de Oliveira – Gaz Metan Medias
- Ovidiu Vezan – International Curtea de Arges
My view: Well, if Spadacio wins this after the worst season since his arrival to Rapid, it means that the guy is way too good for this league, but not good enough for a better one, given the lack of offers from Europe this summer… Anyway, let’s just say that Sanmartean made a nice comeback in Liga I, but he still looks like he wouldn’t like to give too much on the pitch – he probably waits to turn 34, 35. If Lopez Caro wants to win something next season, well, he should try and make this guy give it all for FC Vaslui. I wouldn’t have included here Peralta, as he’s more of a number 8 than a number 10, while Vezan is the absolute surprise. Should I add that, in spite of this “achievement”, the guy has just been released on a free transfer by International Pitesti? Thumbs up, though, for Florin Dan, an experienced player who gave it all to save Unirea Alba Iulia, who just missed out on this Top 5.
My choices: Well, to say Radut, now, after Steaua got his signature and he made his debut among the seniors in the National Team doesn’t make me much of an observer, right? But, looking through the list of players taken into consideration, there isn’t another young&promising attacking midfielder out there. And that’s quite sad. And scary!
Note: the top five is taken from Gazeta Sporturilor, a newspaper that uses the service of Digital Soccer Project. These results are based on a series of specific criteria for each position, include only players that have collected at least 1.200 minutes on the pitch in the past season and the only subjective part of the analysis consists in the average marks received by the newspaper’s writers.
- Universitatea Craiova signed Valentin Iliev (29), a Bulgarian central defender who comes from Terek Grozni. The experienced centre-back – 18 caps for the National Team – signed a contract until June 2011 and is Universitatea’s first important signing under Dutch manager Mark Wotte.
- Dinu Daniel Sanmartean (28) follows his older brother, Lucian, to FC Vaslui. Released by Gloria Bistrita, the once promising left back makes a surprising move to this ambitious club, but will be only a backup solution for a team that will rely mostly on the Portuguese Hugo Duarte Luz (27) and the recently acquired Bulgarian left back Zhivko Milanov (25).
The surprise of the first half of season signed another important player, after Lucian Sanmartean (29): Bulgarian right back Zhivko Milanov (25) signed a contract with the club owned by former international referee Adrian Porumboiu. The defender comes from Levski Sofia, where he collected over 120 appearances in the league, and is a Bulgarian international, with 14 caps. He signed a three years long contract and FC Vaslui apparently paid 350.000 EUR for his transfer.
Never in recent years the race for the title has been so tight after half of season and, with little or no money available, it’s very interesting to watch the (lack of) strategy at the several clubs that have a realistic shot at the championship.
Most of them will only try to preserve the current roster, although all the weaknesses have been exposed by now: Steaua is poor at the back and still without its main strength – the public’s affection -, Unirea will be without its creator, Dan Petrescu, while CFR still has key players unhappy and playing below their ability.
In fact, from the Top 8, only one team has the money, the comfort and good atmosphere ensured by solid finances, plus a competitive roster, which just got a new and valuable addition (Lucian Sanmartean – central attacking midfielder). But, really, does anyone believe that FC Vaslui can win the title? Apart from those who dared to believe in Unirea Urziceni last year?