- Concordia Chiajna – Ceahlaul 2-1 (Ghionea 43, Purece 57 / Cazan 44)
- Gloria Bistrita – Petrolul Ploiesti 1-1 (Laio Azeredo dos Santos 82 / Cristescu 8)
- FC Severin – Otelul Galati 1-1 (Thomas 45 / Punosevac 20)
- Universitatea Cluj – Dinamo 1-2 (V. Dinu 8 pen / Danciulescu 23 pen, Curtean 62)
- FC Brasov – FC Vaslui 2-1 (I. Popa 11, Batin 74 / Varga 64)
- Astra Giurgiu – Gaz Metan Medias 4-0 (Di Stefano 51, Budescu 54, Tembo 61, Takayuki 87)
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – CFR Cluj 2-1 (Maxim 49 pen, Radut 81 pen / Bastos 52)
- Viitorul Constanta – CSMS Iasi 1-0 (Dica 42)
- Steaua – Rapid 1-0 (Bourceanu 90+5)
It’s a shame to see FC Vaslui out of the Europa League, really! They’ve done incredibly well in a very tough group, with the likes of Lazio and Sporting Lisbon and were in a good position before the last round of games in spite of the numerous problems that Viorel Hizo had to deal with this autumn. He never had something at least close to what you’d call an ideal first eleven, playing with an improvised back four and losing for the last three games one of his best players, but he still managed to go to Zurich for the last game without having to depend on what was happening on the “Olimpico”. Of course, if everything was going to be fine in Switzerland…
It wasn’t. Cerniauskas, the goalkeeper, had to leave the field injured in the first half. The outstanding Sanmartean resisted just until after the break, in a game Hizo had in the stands three regular starters suspended: Temwanjera, Papp and Wesley. It was simply too much for a team that has a transfer ban for almost a year and a small and very unfortunate squad. They’ve lost 2-0, but I think everyone should be proud of the club’s first ever European presence and hopefully the sometimes impulsive owner, Adrian Porumboiu, will have a good look at the big picture. It definitely doesn’t make you turns your eyes away!
Surprisingly, Steaua did a lot better, in spite of a more delicate position, as the Bucharest side was also depending on a good result managed by the already qualified Schalke in Israel, not just on the win against AEK Larnaca. In front of 50.000 fans, who are starting to forget that their boycott was provoked by a club owner who’s still there and getting behind the team once again. The fans’ defeat meant the team’s victory though and it was a vital one, as the Germans played their part, inspired by Ciprian Marica who scored his first goal of the season for Schalke!
After a nervous first half, Rusescu kept his cool and converted a penalty, but AEK struck back and things were looking bad for Steaua. Pablo Brandan’s quality and experience kept the team balanced though and Ilie Stan got all his subs right, although at least one of them came a bit late. A corner and a perfect counter were converted by Stefan Nikolic, the 22 years old striker loaned from Poli Timisoara netting a brace and sending Steaua in the European spring for the 9th time in the club’s history.
I wouldn’t say they were the better team, but there’s something about this club that often comes to the rescue and offers them that little plus that makes the difference between the Romanian sparring-partners and the Romanian clubs that every once in a while make it in Europe…
Last season’s third placed team, FC Vaslui, went on a run of four defeats without a single goal scored at the beggining of the season, moving from the qualifying matches for the Champions League to the Europa League play-off in the meantime and looking very poor in Liga I.
Adrian Porumboiu, the owner, looked more reasonable than usual and yesterday the team delivered. A 3-0 away win against the newly promoted Concordia Chiajna might not have anything extraordinary about it, but it surely is a sign that this team cannot perform worse than last season, at least not against Romanian opposition. My guess is that Sparta Prague’s emissaries also returned home with some worrying notes…
If the Prague outfit still relies on experience, that’s something Vaslui doesn’t lack either, with the Brazilian duo Adailton-Wesley finally producing a performance closer to its standards. Adailton managed to provide the last pass for each of Vaslui’s goals, but the first, scored by Wesley, was a sign of perfect synchronization between the two forwards. With one of his often decisive late runs in the box, Wesley scored his 33rd goal in Liga I in 82 appearances and is only three goals shy of the all-time best foreign scorer in the Romanian league, the Albanese striker who used to play for Dinamo Bucharest, Sulejman Demollari.
It would be a mistake to get carried away, though, as Vaslui still has to wait until the 10th of September to have a transfer ban lifted and the team certainly is short on luck, with the starting pair in central defense, Paul Papp – Gabriel Canu, recently injured. The club is in such a mess that against Chiajna Viorel Hizo paired Pavol Farkas with a Romanian player who is in the squad for a few years, but was kept there as a solution for the attack, not the back four! It might have worked against Chiajna, but it could go very wrong against Sparta and Porumboiu – although he deserves credit for paying high wages and brining good foreign players in the league – has to take
part most of the blame for not having a youth center and a reserve team able to supply the first squad with a decent youngster in such difficult times…
Yes, the mighty Unirea Urziceni. The team that progressed from third division to the Champions League (with defender Epaminonda Nicu playing at all levels!) to record the highest number of points collected in the group stage by a Romanian team has officially retired from all competitions. Basically, the team that was defeating Rangers at Ibrox with an incredible 4-1 and collected eight points in a group that also featured Seville and Vfb Stuttgart, has ceased to exist. Most likey, it will not be missed, as the team that once thrived under the strict command of former Chelsea man Dan Petrescu rarely had a sold out stadium in the 20,000 souls town of Urziceni. Unirea has every chance to be remembered, though, so here, here and here are a few pieces of mine for those willing to take one more look at the club’s good old days…
I don’t think it really matters who is going to take over this team. And I’m starting to think that it won’t matter who is going to play for it, in the next few years. We’ve reached a point where the ability of the coach and the players’ skill stopped counting. They’d come handy, no doubt, but they won’t suffice. Not anymore. And we should stop looking for the Hagi that can score wonderful goals and start searching for the guys that feel the same way Gica used to feel when wearing the national team’s outfit. Or Dorinel Munteanu, currently teaching some anonymous football players from Otelul Galati that the matches and the league titles can be won through hard, honest work. Or Gica Popescu, the man who knew that he could help Romanian football only by taking the the Romanian Football Federation’s head.
Obviously, the sick body answered back at any attempt to inject some health: Hagi was destroyed as a man and a coach through the media hungry for any bad word that came out of Gigi Becali’s big mouth, Munteanu was labelled as a match fixer, after his first experiences as a coach, while Popescu was humiliated by a dirty voting system, controlled by Sandu, the man who definitely deserves his nickname: “The Godfather”.
What happened after the game versus Bosnia is hard to explain by anyone who has some common sense and can think beyond himself. After some harsh and, at times, undeserved criticism, lead by the other Becalis, Victor and “Giovani”, Razvan Lucescu slapped everyone in the face with the surprising 3-0 win and resigned, agreeing immediately to take over Rapid, making no effort to make this look like a random series of events.
Mircea Lucescu’s son had been planning this for a while, though, that’s why he called FC Brasov’s Cristian Oros for the first time to the national team. The centre-back was a 26 years old who is going to play for… Rapid next season. An accident? Steaua’s Romeo Surdu (27) also earned a call-up and he will also switch teams this summer, going from Steaua to Lucescu’s next club. But this was nothing. The real blow was Lucescu’s refusal to go with the team he had selected and to the South American tournament he had asked for, one that included an extremely important game: Romania needed a win against Paraguay. Any other result would have relegated us to the fourth pot ahead of the draw for the qualifying groups to World Cup 2014, but nobody gave a damn. From the head of the Federation to the players that “love to play for the national team”.
Mircea Sandu, the chief, Ionut Lupescu, the executive president, Razvan Lucescu, the quitter, plus “the stars” Adrian Mutu, Cristian Sapunaru, Gabriel Tamas and Razvan Rat, who didn’t put the respect for the national team above their apetite for partying during the summer, simply refused to travel to South America! For us, Romanians, who watched in disbelief the 0-2 defeat against Paraguay, this shouldn’t be remembered as the tournament that saw Ronaldo play his last game for Brazil. It should be the marked as the moment when all those who could have brought back to life the national team decided to pull the plug.
They should all go away, as simple as that. Because as long as they’re still involved, we can be sure of one thing: we’ll always be here, at home, watching the European Championships and the World Cups on tv. The good thing we’re used to it by now, anyway…
The Argentinian who, in his youth, worked as a bricklayer eight hours a day, while playing for a third division club, signed today a three and a half years long deal with Galata, the same period he spent in Cluj. A consistent player, he collected 89 matches for CFR, but scored only 3 goals in Liga I, a rather poor record for a midfielder who’s more valuable in attack than in defense. He’s been a key player nevertheless and leaves Romania after two triumphs in the league and some memorable performances, like this amazing brace (who said he doesn’t score enough?) against AS Rome:
A versatile two-footed player, he can cover several roles in midfield, can provide very good service from the flank, and is a reliable set-plays taker. Has good work-rate and will play his part in getting the ball back, but has one major problem: he keeps the ball too much, trying to find space and time for the decisive pass, often slowing down the build-up. At least once per game you’ll see him crossing from one side to the other with the ball at his feet, paralyzing his team-mates, who ran out of ideas and space in the opposition’s half. This might be seen more rarely in Istanbul, though, as I expect Culio to lose some of the freedom he enjoyed in Cluj, where he was often the only midfielder able & in charge of opening up the opposition’s defense.
The financial details of the move presented in the Romanian press: 1,5 million Euros upfront + 0,5 million Euros in the summer for CFR Cluj. In February 2009, CFR had turned down a 4 million Euros from Rubin Kazan!
- Culio, on the move to Galatasaray: “It’s a dream move for me, I’m delighted. It’s an honor to have Hagi as a coach and I’m impressed with the conditions at this great club”.
- Culio, in November 2008: “Cluj is just a station in my career, I hold an Italian passport and my dream is to be able to play in Serie A at one point”.
It’s that time of the year and Andrei Vochin, probably the only football journalist in Romania who writes and speaks just about football, starts providing the standings with the best players from Liga I, after the first half of season. And it’s no surprise to see up there, as the best keeper in Romania, Otelul’s Branko Grahovac, who managed to keep a clean sheet in half of the 18 games played so far. He is protecting the goal for the current league leaders and he was on the podium at the end of last season too, so the 27 years old, bought for 70.000 Euros exactly one year ago from Borac Cacak, has every right to feel good about this “award” and point the finger at the media that cannot stop praising the likes of Tatarusanu (Steaua – 6th place in the standings) and Pantilimon (Poli Timisoara – 11th!): “This is based on stats, not sympathies, so it means I’m better than those two. I agree, Tatarusanu is Steaua’s best player, but I cannot understand how can Pantilimon be the first choice for your national team!”.
Far from perfect (still prone to the odd incredible goal-causing error), Grahovac should thank not just Otelul’s defense, but the entire team, as Dorinel Munteanu asks the same involvement from every player in protecting the goal and getting the ball back. And wouldn’t look bad at all, if he’d show a little modesty, even if he came to Romania to make money, not friends.
Plesca (Gaz Metan – who did a great job covering the absence of Buchta, who was the best keeper in the league, last season!) and Kuciak (FC Vaslui) are just behind Grahovac in the Top 3, who shouldn’t feel too comfortable in this position if he looks to what happened with the keeper that was leading the standings last winter, Robinson Zapata, who spent on almost a year among Steaua’s reserves before leaving the country on a free transfer, not on a high horse…