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România caută fotbaliști, dar pentru un sistem greșit

June 10, 2018 1 comment
Budescu – Băluță cuplu de atac, într-un 4-4-2, în care Stoian e surprinzător în centru, la construcție, cu Anton închizător și nu prea. Cam așa a arătat România contra Finlandei, când ni s-a retras Pisica și ne-am uitat zâmbind îngăduitori la trucurile unui motan cam obez și plictisit și cursele șoriceilor reinventați de Mangia la Craiova.
Contra caută soluții, mută, jonglează, și e de înțeles. Dar nu cumva castelul ăsta din cărți de joc – cu trei juveți! – riscă să se prăbușească la primul meci mai serios, plecând de la o premisă greșită?
Eu cred că asta se întâmplă, iar buba e-n regula asta nescrisă: România trebuie să joace cu o linie de patru fundași. Greșit. România nu are nici fundași laterali pentru un astfel de sistem și nu (mai) are nici soluții solide pentru centrul apărării. Ne uităm și mai sus? Dacă jucăm cu doi închizători – Hoban + Pintilii – nu avem cu cine construi. Folosim doar unul – nu facem față. Realitatea asta e: primele noastre opțiuni pentru numărul 6 abia mai fac față…
Așa, mai sus: jucători de bandă, constanți, decisivi 1 contra 1, capabili să creeze și să înscrie regulat? Mda, liniște.
Decar e Budescu, pentru că Stanciu nu se simte perfect acolo, dar, mă scuzați, cât de fină i-ar fi glezna lui Budi, eu nu mă pot uita la el. E un Alibec care mai dă un gol, o pasă de gol, un călcâi, două, trei, cinci… Dar astea, exterioarele de efect și cracii de curtea școlii intră aici, la noi, între noi, în meciuri fără ritm și miză… Faptul că selecționerul îl acceptă în halul ăsta la lot nu rezolvă nicio problemă actuală și mai creează și un precedent pentru viitor. În forma fizică actuală, Budescu e o pată de rușine pentru FCSB și națională.
Iar sus, sus de tot, singurul nouar cu fizic, ceva tehnică și simț al porții e Țucudean, tipul ăla care ar fi putut mai mult, dar n-avea de ce. Pentru că-n fotbalul de azi motivația e banul, nu pasiunea. Iar George își numără mai ușor golurile decât mașinile.
Buuun, deci, cam praf pe spate, modești la mijloc și subțiri în atac. Soluția? Nu, n-ar trebui să ne retragem din Liga Națiunilor, nivelul acolo e chiar accesibil (sigur, dacă acceptăm că Serbia e favorita). Condiția e să ne adaptăm la ce avem. Și eu zic că avem destule motive să încercăm – bine, am ratat acum două ocazii – un sistem cu trei fundași centrali, care nu doar că rezolvă o zonă vulnerabilă, dar pare capabil să scoată evoluții peste medie de la jucătorii utili, dar totuși limitați, mă refer mai ales la cei promovați și integrați recent în naționala mare.
În fața lui Tătărușanu, i s-ar face astfel loc și lui Țîru, de la Viitorul, care de doi ani joacă la un nivel bun. Ar deveni o soluție alături de Săpunaru, Chiricheș, când va fi apt, sau Gardoș, dacă se pune pe picioare la Craiova. Și, da, putem continua inclusiv cu Toșca, un fotbalist ok, dar care pentru o linie de patru cu adevărat competitivă ar fi doar backup pe stânga și niciodată o soluție-n centru.
Pe flancuri, Benzar și Bancu și-ar pune mai bine în valoare stilul ofensiv, pentru că ambii au carențe de poziționare și sincronizare într-o linie de patru. Să fim serioși, fundaș stânga nu avem, e doar tipul ăsta de la Craiova – care știți în ce sistem joacă, da? -, care își cunoaște limitele și încearcă să le depășească la națională, cu o atitudine care din păcate nu-i contagioasă… Sigur, nu-l uit pe Ganea, dar mai nou orice transfer afară a devenit mai degrabă îngrijorător decât încurajator…
Cu protecție suplimentară în centru, dar și dublaj pentru oameni de bandă ofensivi, poți jongla la mijloc. Îți permiți să mai tragi de Pintilii, un tip cu un IQ fotbalistic peste medie, ca număr 6. Poți aduce mușchi și plămâni lângă el sau poți risca atunci când vrei sau ai nevoie, cu jucători creativi gen Stanciu, Cicâldău, Mitriță sau Băluță. Ultimii doi merg și mai sus, într-un tandem care trebuie găsit, acolo unde, da, ar avea loc și Budescu, dar cu câteva kile în minus. Sau măcar un corset, care să-i mai ascundă excesul de talent. Plus că-l ai și pe Hagi, care bate la ușă (și) cu mâna grea a tatălui său. Ne-ar mai trebui un vârf, dar, pe bune, nu le putem avea chiar pe toate…
Să ne-nțelegem: nivelul e slab, soluții reale nu prea sunt și fotbaliștii pe care poți pune bază rămân parcă din ce în ce mai puțini.
Dar poate că tocmai din motivele astea ar trebui să căutăm mai degrabă un sistem funcțional, decât jucătorii care, teoretic, pot rezolva meciuri cu o execuție ieșită din comun. Ei există, pe bune, nici Sânmărtean cred că nu s-a lăsat de tot, dar nu am ajuns să jucăm doar cu Finlanda, Feroe și Luxemburg. Nu încă.

Can Romania play attacking football? Daum might be optimistic, but not suicidal…

September 4, 2016 Leave a comment

The image of Daum taking notes on Liga 1 players in the unglamorous stands from Voluntari or Chiajna had a wow factor in the first rounds of the new season. It said two things:

  1. his time to evaluate eligible players before the first official game of the qualifying campaign was extremely limited.
  2. the time when we knew *without even looking* who can should play in the national team was gone.

This is one of the big advantages of bringing in a foreign coach. If he’s serious and dedicated, but also aware that a change of approach and an objective reevaluation of things is needed for a team that finally played again at a final tournament thanks mainly to a more permissive format and to a weak qualifying group, he will really look at things and people. He will surely not like what he finds, but at least he’ll be operating with fresh data and ideas, leaving the past behind.

For a few days now, Romanian media reports of an attacking philosophy, presenting offensive line-ups and quoting positive, optimistic statements about how the team will play. Come match day and the brave, attacking predicted line-up features Sapunaru and Hoban in front of the back four and a 4-2-3-1 and the always out of place striker Stancu on the left wing. Hard to call that either offensive or innovative… But it’s not the official starting eleven, so surely better to wait and see.

Daum is experienced enough though to look for a result in the opening game, rather than attempt to impress with an attacking game that he had little time to implement, both tactically and mentally. Even if he plans to change Romania’s style, he needs more than just a few days and, as you can imagine, not everyone was happy to see him take over this role and a defeat against Montenegro would surely turn on the heat and the hate. Let’s not forget that key elements like Tatarusanu, Chiriches and Pintilii are also missing, but it’s good to see that the search for a new left-back has begun, now with veteran Razvan Rat is out of the picture. You can also see young, fresh faces in the squad, like Marin and Benzar from Viitorul or Dinamo’s Dorin Rotariu. I’m puzzled by the call-up received by Enache, who has been awful at right back lately and I do hope the media got it wrong about the tactical setup and selection of his first eleven, but I’m hopeful it’s only a matter of time until Daum understands who’s reliable or at least who has a chance of fitting his ideas and playing style in the future.

Trickier than in appearance, tonight’s game will be a test not for Daum’s selection and ability to quickly implement new ideas, but also for our understanding of the game, of the time needed to change an approach that has stayed with us for decades. We have praised Iordanescu for making a great counter-attacking team when he had Hagi, Sabau, Gica Popescu, Dan Petrescu or Ilie Dumitrescu at his disposal; I find it quite funny that people read so much into Daum’s words of playing a different football and expect this still mediocre national team to attack and impress with the likes of Grigore, Hoban, Achim and Chipciu…

Romania’s number 10, Nicusor Stanciu, cannot handle the pressure. Really?

June 18, 2016 2 comments

“Stanciu played a good game against France. But he is young and there is an important amount of pressure he has to deal with; we tried to take that pressure off his shoulders”, said Viorel Moldovan, sent by Iordanescu to explain one of the strange decisions made after Romania’s first game at Euro 2016.

And they took it off, leaving Romania’s number 10 and one of the very few creative midfielders on the bench for the 90 minutes played against Switzerland.

stanciu

Now, just a few episodes that Romania’s coaching staff surely know, but maybe forgot, when they realised that there’s some explaining to do regarding its controversial decision:

  • Stanciu makes his debut in second division for the senior team of Unirea Alba Iulia before turning 16.
  • Plays his first Liga 1 game when he was only 17. Against Steaua. In a match surprisingly won 2-1 by Unirea.
  • Signed by FC Vaslui, captained his club and scored from the penalty spot against Inter, on Giuseppe Meazza, aged 19.
  • Signs for Steaua and earns quickly his place in the team.
  • Makes his debut in the senior national team and goes on a scoring streak – 4 goals in his first 5 games – that puts to shame every striker that played in recent years for Romania.
  • Took the no 10 shirt and played a solid game against Spain, in a recent friendly, daring to lob Casillas from over 40 meters.

Finishing off, one question for Iordanescu, who lacks courage both as a coach and as a man, sending others to defend his choices: does the must-win game against Albania, in which I expect Stanciu to play from the start, have less pressure than the match against Switzerland?

Looking for some enthusiasm pre-Euro 2016?…

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Romania drew 2-2 in Bologna against a disappointing Italian side, but deserve some credit for ending the year unbeaten. The result can be just as deceiving though as the fact that Romania had the best defensive record in the qualifiers for Euro 2016 of all the teams involved.

There’s no real reason for optimism. Commenting the game for Rai, Trapattoni said, among others, that Iordanescu’s players “aren’t technically inferior to any other team” and that Romania’s “mastering the art of passing and dictating tempo”. With all due respect for the legendary coach: LOL!

On the pitch, we had the likes of Grigore, Hoban, Pintilii, who are more or less as skilful as Tatarusanu. It’s true that at the time of those two remarks Sanmartean had just came on and was showing off his classy touch and ability to toy with the game’s tempo when in possession, but six months from now the old wizard will be even closer to retirement…

Nevertheless, unlike Trap, I think Romania’s hopes before the final tournament starts should never get high enough to be able to cause disappointment once our three games at Euro 2016 will be over. Iordanescu, out of contract for a few days in November, is no longer regarded as a coach able to deliver miracles, in spite of all his faith in God. He did take the team to a final tournament after a looong wait, but look at the group, look at the performances, the players he promoted, a tactical edge or clear playing style created during his tenure! (Ok, it’s a trap, don’t waste your time searching for the last three…)

Involved with Steaua’s historical achievement in 1986, coach of the golden generation from 1994, leader of a mediocre group that finally gets tickets to a new final tournament, Iordanescu would have caused no surprise, anger or any other passionate reaction if he would have been left out of contract and replaced by another this autumn…

I’m no fan of the man and would blame Iordanescu for a few things, those unimportant things ignored by previous coaches, who also had promised to rebuild a team, promote new faces and create a playing style that suits this team. I blame him for the lack of vision and courage, I blame him for looking for results at all costs. For the lack of work done in areas left to the new faces of the Romanian football federation, who managed in one year to leave people thinking about Mircea Sandu’s regime… Bref, I simply cannot praise Iordanescu for the kind of results that his predecessors could have been able to deliver against such terrible opponents!

I keep on reading and hearing that our presence at a final tournament is a blessing. Come next summer, I doubt we’ll feel the same watching Romania play. We’ll be there, but it’s not an elite anymore, we’ll say our goodbye to the likes of Rat and Sanmartean and maybe to Iordanescu himself, and we’ll be looking around for options. The kind of options that Razvan Lucescu, Victor Piturca and Anghel Iordanescu failed to produce with their work in the past decade, all of them desperately trying to deliver a successful qualifying campaign. We finally did it, but when you have to thank UEFA for the new format of the tournament, Lady Luck for the draw and Hungary, Greece and Finland for being even weaker than us, you simply run out of praise for a coach and a generation of players that, given its mediocrity, would actually deserve some…

Can we stop Romania and Hungary from playing at EURO 2016?

October 10, 2015 4 comments

romania hungaryWhen Hungary decided settle for a 0-0 against Romania in the second half of the game in Budapest and let the hazard of future results decide their fate, I thought, ok, they don’t deserve to go through. When Romania went over 400 minutes without scoring it was just as clear that we’re just as terrible, both in terms of approach and quality. Hungary’s struggle against Faroe and Romania’s awful home game vs Finland only confirmed that both teams are at pathetic levels, unworthy of a final tournament that everyone thinks would do wonders for either of the two struggling countries.

I’m against that theory, really, because I see more value in reforming clubs and football federations, league associations and other organisms, in adjusting perspectives and lowering public expectations, adding realism and hard work focused at youth level instead. Yeah, the old good hard work…

With all due respect to Northern Ireland and especially Faroe Islands, I do agree that Group F offered some dramatic moments, according to emotional reports from the two countries still hoping to make it to France. You could watch the beautiful game suffer a slow and painful death…

Anyway, with the power invested in my by the 4-5 regular followers of this influential blog, I would like to ask UEFA to award the 2nd qualifying place from Group F to any nation that actually has a team able to play some football. For Romania or Hungary, a presence at EURO 2016 would only be a blessing in disguise.

Rule number 1 in Romanian football: you don’t mess with the owner!

September 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Romania’s defense held out in Athens against Greece, with Gabriel Tamas at right back, a desperate, yet effective solution. Normally, we should have seen there Alexandru Matel, the 24 years old who featured in both play-off games against Greece last November, when Romania missed out on a place at the World Cup, who went on to finish another solid season with Astra Giurgiu, winning the Romanian Cup and finishing the league in second place.

Don’t look him up in Astra’s team that managed to take out Slovan Liberec and OL on its way to the Europa League group stage! You won’t find him in the starting line-ups, not even on the bench. You can find him in exile though, training on his own, twice a day, on the pitch of Astra’s abandoned stadium from Ploiesti. He’ll be there until next summer, waiting for the last year of his contract to run out, watching international games go by at a perfect age to play and impress.

matelHe’s 24, fully fit, but after just over 100 games for Astra, still naive enough to think that Ioan Niculae, a rich guy who likes to own business and people, would have said: “well, it’s no problem if you don’t want to renew your deal, my team can still do with the best Romanian right back for another year!”. Well, the problem with most of the wealthy guys is that they rarely regard somebody else indispensable, valuable or at least worthy of respect. Other than themselves, that is…

Well, enough bad things about the owner. With all his faults, according to his version of events, he did meet the exact terms requested by Matel’s agent for a contract extension this summer. A scenario Matel didn’t feel the need to deny, which might just make it real. He prefers to pose as the victim, but it would have been a more convincing picture if he didn’t negotiate for a new deal in the first place. And Niculae, as any other rich guy out there, has the cash to surprise you. Usually, in a positive way. At times, in ways you and your agent might dislike. Because in a story that affects not only Matel, but more people and teams, there’s more than just one bad guy involved this time around…

Comeback

August 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Toyed with the idea of letting this go, as the blog’s domain was about to expire, but the passion for writing is still there. So is the will to share info and thoughts on Romanian footie, which lots of you appreciated over time, so here I am. Back on the road, scouting, back on the blog, writing.
Let’s talk some football here, on Twitter (@rbaicu) and Facebook.

Manea’s record cannot hide the truth about Romania’s national team

June 2, 2014 1 comment

While others prepare for the World Cup, Romania defeated Albania 1-0 after yet another mediocre performance, in the build-up for the probably easiest ever qualifying campaign for the European Championship. Still, Victor Piturca, the manager who still has a job only because the new head of the Romanian Federation refused to pay him 300.000 Euro, the price for an early termination of his contract, stated afterwards that Romania has the ability to defeat any team. Probably by boring it to death.

Piturca will also show great proud for his incredible courage of fielding the 16 years old Cristian Manea in a friendly, meaningless match, the Viitorul defender breaking a very old record about the youngest player to feature in Romania’s senior team.

The truth is, Piturca, as always, is not really keen on rebuilding this team. He sticks pretty much to the same players and he keeps on using the national team as a stage for players who really need these caps to get new contracts at club level. It’s no coincidence that 5 out of 11 starters are currently out of contract. And I also take this opportunity to present Piturca’s starting eleven vs Albania in a different key, based on club performances in the season that recently ended.

And a bit of math: average age of this starting 11 is 26.3 years. Without Manea, it’s 27.4 years!

romania cristian maneaGoalkeeper: Tatarusanu (27) – Champion with Steaua. Will probably sign with Fiorentina, as a free agent.
Right back: Manea (16) – Youngest ever player to feature in Romania’s senior team. Avoided relegation with Viitorul in the last round of the season.
Central defender: Chiriches (24) – Not so sure about his future with Tottenham, 6th in the Premier League, in spite of some bright performances.
Central defender: Grigore (27) – Won a Europa League spot with Dinamo. Will move to Toulouse, on a free transfer.
Left back: Rat (33) – Avoided relegation with Rayo Vallecano. Currently out of contract.
Defensive midfielder: Bourceanu (29) – Contribution to Steaua’s title and Trabzonspor’s Europa League spot.
Defensive midfielder: Pintilii (29) – Champion with Steaua. Wants to leave the club.
Right winger: Nicolita (29) – Average season with St. Etienne and Nantes. Currently out of contract.
Supporting striker: Chipciu (25) – Champion with Steaua.
Left winger: Maxim (23) – Avoided relegation with VfB Stuttgart.
Striker: Marica (28) – Avoided relegation with Getafe. Currently out of contract.

No worries, I also am quite sure Piturca will be able to take Romania to Euro 2016. But mostly because this one, with 24 teams at the start, will be almost impossible to miss.

A critical look at Romania’s perfect start

September 11, 2012 1 comment

2-0 vs Estonia, 4-0 vs Andorra and Victor Piturca looks like a happy man. “I’d give my boys a 10!”, said the coach after the win from Tallin and, surprisingly, went further after tonight’s success, offering a 10+. It makes sense only if you think that, before the game, he was happy with a 1-0 win against Andorra (please don’t pay too much attention to the FIFA rankings!), but who saw the match and the struggle to open up a crowded defense would beg to differ.

Romania made only one change to the starting eleven used in Tallinn, with the injured Goian making space for Gaman in central defense, a sign that Piturca isn’t even thinking to work on a plan B. He’s totally focused on making his counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 system work that he’s not using games like this one to prepare an attacking setup for the inevitable moments when Romania will be one or two goals down…

Obviously, the team struggled to score against a very poor team: hazard played a good part in the first two goals, the third came after a set-play and involved an unlucky deflection from Andorra’s keeper, while the last was a brilliant piece of individual skill from Alexandru Maxim… on a counter. We’ve wasted tens of crosses and around 20 corner kicks, which only showed Marica’s problems to use hight balls coming from the flanks and the supporting trio formed by Tanase, Grozav and Torje provided a clumsy overall performance. Torje was lively on the right and scored again, with a nice left footed shot, but he works too much on his own (ignoring the supporting full-back), while his service is often useless. Grozav has some nice touches, but is too inconsistent and runs the wrong channels, while Tanase was very poor, looking very predictable in movement and uninspired when on the ball, getting a very hostile treatment from the angered fans. I could also write a couple of lines about Bourceanu and how limited is Steaua’s anchorman, but I don’t like to repeat myself 🙂

Nevertheless, Piturca is happy and I’ll explain why: for him, it was vital to notch these wins against teams that would have played like Romania intends to play versus the group’s favorites. He was disappointed to hear that Estonia failed to cause problems for Turkey, but he’s secretly hoping that Turkey won’t take all the points in Tallinn. Where both Hungary and Holland might make a “faux pas” and he’s dreaming to frustrate all these higher rated teams when playing against them with a similar approach to Estonia’s, but with a touch more of technical quality and tactical knowledge…

FC Timisoara is out of the Champions League and Liga I. Gloria Bistrita follows the Viola in the third division!

May 31, 2011 4 comments

31st of March was the deadline to present the needed documents to get the professional licence and the right to play in Liga I next season. Of the 18 clubs, 8 (FC Timisoara, Gloria Bistrita, Universitatea Craiova, Gaz Metan Medias, FCM Targu Mures, CFR Cluj, Victoria Branesti and Unirea Urziceni) were denied it due to a lack of evidence that they had cleared all debt, but they all launched an appeal sending more documents to a special comittee, lead by a certain Viorel Duru (duru = tough, strict in Romanian!).

Duru held today a press conference and announced that five of the eight clubs will not be granted the right to play in Liga I next season. But, if Victoria Branesti, Universitatea Craiova and Unirea Urziceni were relegated anyway, the real victims are FC Timisoara and Gloria Bistrita. Timisoara, who finished the league in 2nd place, was undefeated for two thirds of the previous season, fought for the title until the very last round and had  qualified for the Champions League’s preliminary rounds will probably go down all the way to the Romanian third tier!

The reasons? If Gloria Bistrita had debt towards the state’s budget, Timisoara, besides a similar issue, also failed to pay 1.2 million Euros of the 2.3 million Euros the club had agreed to pay Benfica Lisbon for the Romanian left-back Laszlo Sepsi.

In fact, this second reason also determined UEFA to eliminate FC Timisoara from the Champions League and it is thought that this call – although UEFA has no right to intervene in the licensing process of a certain country –  had determined the Romanians to stay firm on the initial decision and not grant the licence for Liga I!

What’s certain: FC Timisoara will not play in the Champions League next season, but an exception can be found next Thursday, when the Executive Comitee of the Romanian Football Federation will meet to either confirm or deny this decision, which means that only then we will now for sure if and where the two clubs will be relegated from Liga I.

If Gloria Bistrita had little to say and no real power to change things in its favor – although this was the club heavily involved in match fixing before and after 1989, playing a big part in establishing league winners, fabricating goalscorers (remember the Golden Boot scandal) and relegated teams – FC Timisoara will go down with a bang. The bosses already said that they will fight in every possible way this decision, saying among others that they had reached an agreement with Benfica over the delayed payments in Sepsi’s case, and that the current ownership will stay with the team even if relegated to the fourth tier. They will try to take action in Lausanne, but also in civil court, where they will ask to be returned Balkan Petroleum’s investment in the club, calculated at around 40 million Euros.

Do stick around, updates will follow!

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