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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 adevarul.ro

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…

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Player of the round: Pintilii, the Radoi that didn’t get to play for Steaua. Yet…

July 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Mihai Pintilii. Photo by servuspress.ro

Name: Mihai Pintilii
Position: central defender
Born: 1984
Height/Weight: 181 cm/75 kg
Club: Pandurii Targu Jiu

Left Jiul Petrosani on a free transfer in January and made an instant impact at International Curtea de Arges, where he collected 11 appearances in the top flight, finishing his first half of season at this level as the team’s captain. Now, he moved alongside his coach and colleagues from International to Pandurii, where he offered an excellent display in the first round of the season, against Unirea Urziceni. In spite of his small size for a centre-back, Pintilii managed to contain Unirea’s top centre-forward, Bilasco, an outstanding player in the air and a key man in Levy’s tactical plans. Pintilii was focused, quick, aggressive when required and outplayed Bilasco with his excellent anticipation, controlling his opponent on the chest and coming out for the ball at the right moment, with impressive efficiency. On top of that, he had to sweep several loose balls and generally had a lot of work, considering the poor displays from his partner Ousmane Viera and especially the highly-rated-for-no-reason left back, Cardoso. Looked a lot like Steaua’s former captain, Mirel Radoi, and I recall Pintilii being offered to Steaua a few years ago, but, at that time, the Bucharest side had players like Radoi, Ghionea or Goian in the team and the centre back had to return in the second division.

Title contenders: Rapid Bucharest

July 24, 2010 1 comment

Just missed on an European spot last season, in spite of Ioan Andone’s attempts to save what seemed a compromised campaign. Involved in a huge controversy, regarding the use of two players loaned from Sportul Studentesc, Dacian Varga and Tiberiu Balan, who were registered after the winter mercato period had ended, Rapid wasted a year, paying for poor management and a lack of strategy from the club’s owner, George Copos. Surprisingly, this guy, who repeatedly tried to get rid of the club, returned this summer determined to make Rapid one of the serious title contenders in Liga I. He convinced Dinu Gheorghe to come back from FC Brasov as the club’s president and this very influent character in Romanian football returned in style: 5 of Brasov’s best players came along and the young coach Marius Sumudica – considered one of the clubs living legends – has an excellent squad at his disposal and basically no excuse if he’ll finish the season outside the first two spots.

Mercato activity:

Players in: Marcos Antonio (central defender, 27, Belensenses), Sabrin Sburlea (forward, 21, FC Brasov), Mihai Roman (right midfielder, 26, FC Brasov), Rui Duarte (right back, 30, FC Brasov), Roosevelt Tavares de Melo Ezequias (left back, 30, FC Brasov), Nicolae Grigore (central defensive midfielder, 27, FC Brasov),  Cassio Vargas (striker, 27, Uniao Leiria), Glauber Berti (central defender, 27, Sao Caetano), Gustavo Nacaratto Veronesi, 28, right winger).

Players out: Adrian Iencsi (central defender, 35, Concordia Chiajna), Diego Ciz (left back, 29, Olimpia Asuncion – loan expired), Darjian Matic (central defensive midfielder, 27, released), Ilie Iordache (forward, 25, AEK Athens – loan expired), Alexandru Ionita (striker, 21, FC Koln), Edgars Gauracs (striker, 22, FK Ventspils – loan expired), Cristian Sapunaru (right back, 26, FC Porto – loan expired), Helder da Silva Fereira (right wing back, 22, Nancy – loan expired), Dacian Varga (left winger, 26, Sportul Studentesc – loan expired), Tiberiu Balan (attacking midfielder, 29, Sportul Studentesc – loan expired).

Mihai Roman, national team material

Intense activity on the market, with impressive results, indeed. Rapid lost a number of players, but only a couple were indeed valuable for the team, and decided to cashvin on the promising Ionita after his first full season for the seniors. On the other hand, the buys were spot on: Rui Duarte will make up for Sapunaru’s departure, Ezequias will provide competition for Bozovic, who becomes also availabe for a more advanced role on the left side, while Cassio and Sburlea should do better in terms of efficiency than Ionita. Roman’s addition – a national team player these days – is a coup, but the two Brazilian centre-backs will need to confirm the board’s inspiration and Sumudica’s ability to recondition two players of some quality, but who come from very long breaks. To conclude, Rapid has now quality on each position, competition for a place in the first eleven and a group of players hungry for trophies. Excellent job from the staff!

Tactics:

  • Coach: Marius Sumudica (new)
  • Preferred system: 4-2-3-1
  • Ideal first eleven: Bornescu – Rui Duarte, Glauber, Constantin, Bozovic – Grigore, Lazar – Roman, Spadacio, Cesinha – Cassio Vargas
  • Reliable subs: Ezequias (left back), Marcos Antonio (central defender), Herea (attacking midfielder), Grigorie (attacking midfielder), Sburlea (striker).
  • Key player: Costin Lazar. The three offensive players, Roman, Spadacio and Cesinha, are match winners, in my opinion, but what would they do if the team’s captain, one of the most gifted and underrated central midfielders in Romanian football, misses from the pitch? Technically gifted, composed and comfortable on the ball, having excellent vision and the ability to link up play effectively, he’s the man that keeps Rapid’s game flowing. A fight with Sumudica in pre-season was a signal that he’s a bit frustrated at the lack of offers from abroad, but it’s all in the past now, as he realized that this team has what it takes to win something this year.
  • Underrated player: None. At this point, there are around 20 players entitled for a place in the first eleven and, with so many additions, it’s fair to wait a couple of months and see everyone at work.
  • Liability: Constantin’s partner in central defense. Both Glauber and Marcos Antonio need time to regain match fitness, after lengthy spells on the sidelines, and will be prone to mistakes at least in the first few rounds of the season.

What to expect:

"Sumi-goal", returning as a coach

There is a lot of enthusiasm in Giulesti, where there’s a passionate crowd and the atmosphere at Rapid’s home games is impressive even when the team plays badly, so we can expect a good start from Rapid. But problems do appear as the season progresses and we can expect them in a team that will leave on the bench or in the stands good players every round, in a team that has a habit of alternating wonderful performances against the top clubs with poor results against the smaller teams. It will all depend on Sumudica’s ability to keep things balanced and under control, but he’s rather an impulsive, choleric character and quite unexperienced as a Liga I coach.

Title contenders: FC Vaslui

July 23, 2010 1 comment

Last season’s third place only motivated the wealthy Adrian Porumboiu to continue his solid investment in a small club, but who definitely looks on its way to success. Vaslui matched the champions from CFR in terms of quality buys from abroad, having in Wesley da Silva, Gladstone, Costly or Kuciak top players by Liga I standards, but the team guided by Marius Lacatus lost pace and energy exactly when they needed a final, convincing sprint. If Lacatus wouldn’t have decided to move to Spain, I’m sure he would have been replaced anyway, knowing Porumboiu’s determination to prove not just his financial strength, but also that, as a former international ref, he’s got more footballing culture than any other club owner.

Mercato activity:

Players in: David Rivas (central defender, 31, Betis Seville), Vytautas Cerniauskas (goalkeeper, 21, Ekranas), Alejandro Campano (midfielder, 32, Gimnastic), Rodolfo Bodipo (striker, 32, Deportivo La Coruna – loan), Daniel Pancu (central attacking midfielder, 33, CSKA Sofia), Silviu Balace (left back, 32, Universitatea Craiova – returns from loan)

Players out: Roberto Alfonso Delgado (right midfielder, 24, Universitatea Cluj)

David Rivas, a defender used to deal with slightly better opponents

Interesting campaign, based on players demanded and convinced by the newly appointed coach, Lopez Caro, who should add experience and professionalism to a team that managed to keep all the important names from the previous campaign. The imports from Spain have been a rare treat in Liga I, while Pancu’s return to Romania, very close to his birthplace, Iasi, could exploit the last top performances from a quality attacking player indeed, who could have made it big in European football, with a bit more luck. What’s a bit surprising is the fact that Vaslui paid just one transfer fee this summer, 300.000 Euros for the promising Lithuanian keeper Cerniasukas, but has probably the largest wage bill in the league.

Tactics:

  • Coach: Lopez Caro (new)
  • Preferred system: 4-2-3-1
  • Ideal first eleven: Cerniauskas – Milanov, Rivas, Farkas, Hugo Luz – Gladstone, Pancu – Sanmartean, Wesley, Milisavijevic – Bodipo
  • Realiable subs: Kuciak (goalkeeper), Zubar (central defender), Ghencev (central midfielder), Pavlovic (central midfielder), Costly (striker), Temwanjera (striker)
  • Key player: Wesley. Quality attacking option, able to create and finish and play at a high level on a number of positions and roles. One of the top three forwards in the league, can decide matches on his own, but often plays for the team, showing very good understanding with Sanmartean last season, looking excited to have the chance to play alongside other quality footballers. With their number increased after this summer’s campaign, we can expect even greater things from the Brazilian.
  • Underrated player: Nemanja Milisavijevic. The left footed winger has outstanding pace, good dribbling skills and can torment his direct opponent, but unfortunately for him, last season, he rarely played at his full potential. Fully fit, he could have a very good year, but it’s hard to say who is going to be the top player this time around, with so many quality players in midfield and attack.
  • Liability: Vytautas Cerniauskas – if he plays right away. The young goalie has just arrived, but, given the conflict between the club and first choice keeper Dusan Kuciak, he might  get soon the chance to prove himself and I doubt that a second Arlauskis could arrive to Liga I so soon and make a similar impact. If I’d be in Caro’s place I would trust Haisan, who stepped in well even last season and should offer time and guidance to Cerniauskas, as well.

What to expect:

Lopez Caro

A very strong team, with an interesting coach and technical staff and solid finances, FC Vaslui is a serious threat and everyone’s aware of that. The club’s problems could come from Lopez Caro’s lack of knowledge about Romanian football – which could prove mindblowing, at times, through all sorts of episodes – and the unsolved conflicts for long periods, similar to the two that currently invlove Costly and Kuciak (two of the club’s best players). The fact is, though, that the team has so many potential match winners that I cannot see FC Vaslui losing points against the smaller clubs, who will defend at all costs and through any means available, and should offer very entertaining derbies.

Title contenders: CFR Cluj

July 20, 2010 2 comments

They won the league last season, after a mad campaign, when no less than six clubs fighting for the top spot. Not at all impressive in terms of tactics, Andrea Mandorlini managed to deliver (the championship was followed by the Romanian Cup) and extend his contract for one more season, when his rotation policy will make some sense, having to play in the Champions League group stage, as well. CFR tried to use its’ advantage of having cash to spend on transfer fees, not just wages for free players and their agents’ comissions, making one loan deal permanent – Piccolo – and signing Bjelanovic, an experienced striker demanded by Mandorlini, and Hora, a promising winger.

Mercato activity:

Players in: Sasa Bjelanovic (striker, 31, Vicenza), Felice Piccolo (central defender, 27, Empoli), Dominique Kivuvu (central midfielder, 23, NEC Nijmegen), Nuno Pereira Diogo (central defender, 29, FC Brasov), Ionut Rada (central defender, 28, Al Nasr), Ioan Hora (right winger, 22, Gloria Bistrita), Rafael Bastos (attacking midfielder, 25, Sporting Braga), Diego Ruiz (striker, 30, Kasimpasa, returns from loan), Rade Veljovic (striker, 24, returns from loan), Emmanuel Kone (midfielder, 24, returns from loan), Paul Batin (striker, 23, returns from loan).

Players out: Nicolae Dica (attacking midfielder, 30, loan expired), Davide Bottone (central midfielder, 24, loan expired), Claudinei Aparecido “Nei” (striker, 30, loan expired), Nelson Cabrera (central defender, 27, loan expired), Roberto De Zerbi (forward, 31, loan expired), Sixto Peralta (central midfielder, 31, released).

Dominique Kivuvu, CFR's Vieira

Initially, CFR took care of the players who were loaned last season and paid just for Piccolo’s transfer, who gets along well with team captain and defensive partner, Cadu. A good decision, just like the one to let go Nicolae Dica, an impressive name just on paper and when the TV graphics were presenting the teams. Bjelanovic is certainly an interesting buy, while Kivuvu looks also like a buy, in spite of the player’s arrival on a free transfer. The midfielder was monitorred and probably convinced earlier, so this was also a calculated move from CFR, as was the addition of Hora, who had a solid season with Gloria Bistrita and suits Mandorlini’s favorite tactical setup. Of all departures, Peralta’s could prove the biggest lost, but the bookeepers will be happier than the fans to see the man earning 375.000 Euros per year move away from Cluj. A good summer campaign from CFR’s staff, lead by club president Iuliu Muresan, who wanted to be sure that Mandorlini has what it takes and even something more to defend the title and also get a couple of results in the Champions League.

Tactics:

  • Coach: Andrea Mandorlini (joined the club in November 2009)
  • Preferred system: 4-3-3
  • Ideal first eleven: Nuno Claro – Panin, Cadu, Piccolo, Edimar – Kivuvu, Muresan, Culio – Hora, Bjelanovic, Deac
  • Realiable subs: Tony (right back), Leonardo Veloso (left back), Dani (central midfield), Bud, Kone, Traore (strikers)
  • Key player: Gabriel Muresan. Cadu was also an option, with his ability to step up and convert penalties that bring trophies (it’s at least strange how many titles were decided through a penalty kick awarded to CFR in decisive matches!), but the anchorman is key with his ability to organize play and protect the defense, in a calm and commanding display. Excellent in the air, strong in the tackle, able to find the net with his powerful long range efforts, Muresan often leaves the impression that he dictates all that takes place on the pitch. Around him!
  • Underrated player: Emmanuel Kone. The young Ivorian wide midfielder spent a year on loan with International Curtea de Arges and I was expecting to see him welcomed back and involved more in Mandorlini’s plans. Surprisingly, he’s not, even though Sven Goran Eriksson rates him higher than Lacina Traore, but CFR will do well to keep him. I’m sure he’ll prove pretty useful very soon, given the lack of solutions in midfield, if we leave aside the three regular starters.
  • Liability: My first thought was to go for Mandorlini’s favorite player, Deac (a bit of controversy never hurt a blog!), but Nuno Claro’s performance from the Supercup offered me the opportunity to point out the much praised Portuguese keeper as the number one threat for CFR’s goal next season. He lacks consistency, makes poor decisions under pressure, has poor understanding with the defenders and the odd mistake comes way too often.

What to expect:

Andrea Mandorlini

They’ve moved very well on the transfer market, have experience, morale and a quality roster, with no less than six forwards who could play anywhere in Romania and are often linked to important clubs from abroad. At this point, if CFR fails, it cannot be but Mandorlini’s fault. I admit, with this strong squad, it will be hard for him to mess it up, at least in Liga I, but my feeling is that he won’t be in Cluj next summer, celebrating. The team is still trying to adjust to his beloved 4-3-3 and played often miserably last season, with the players making the difference in CFR’s favor on their own. Or the refs! Favorites to win the league, I agree, but I doubt that everything will favor them, like the previous season.

Lazio wants Romania’s U21 captain, Gabriel Torje

July 17, 2010 2 comments

According to gsp.ro, “i biancocelesti” asked for Cristiano Bergodi’s opinion on Dinamo’s winger, who doesn’t have an attracting asking price, given the fact that the Red Dogs bought only 50% of the player’s rights from Timisoara, for almost 2 million Euros! So, talks are expected to start from 4 million Euros, the two clubs having a precedent in “the Stefan Radu case”, the defender bought by Lazio for 5,4 million Euros, after a one year long loan deal. Of course, Dinamo was wrong to pay so much at that time, a mistake done recently by Steaua, as well, who bought Cristian Tanase’s 50% for 1,8 million Euros, from a second division club!

Torje looked indeed very promising a few years ago, when he got so much credit from Gheorghe Hagi (too underrated as a coach!), playing on a regular basis as an 18 years old for Timisoara, but since his move to Bucharest, his impressive development rate slowed down. Still, he’s the captain of the U21, could earn very soon his first caps for the seniors,  but he still needs to become even better in terms of technique & tactical knowledge, to make up for his very small size and be able to play with the big boys. Right now, he’s not worth more than the 2 millions paid by Dinamo, of course, if the buying club expects to make a profit in two or three years time…

FC Vaslui buys a fifth goalkeeper. Kuciak is history!

July 16, 2010 1 comment

A member of Lithuania’s U21, Vytautas Cerniauskas was signed from FK Ekranas, for an undisclosed fee, and agreed to a five years long deal. The promising keeper is expected to fight for his place in a team that already had the experienced Haisan and transferred earlier this month Cosmin Vatca, from Steaua. What’s almost certain is that Vaslui’s top keeper, Dusan Kuciak, currently refusing to rejoin the team, is on his way out, but that would be possible only if Porumboiu will leave aside his hurt ego and negotiate a deal way below the announced price tag of 2 million Euros.

Cerniauskas hopes to make a similar impact to another very talented Lithuanian goalkeeper, Unirea Urziceni’s Giedrius Arlauskis, who was spotted when he was also 21 years old, by the excellent team manager Mihai Stoica and promoted by Dan Petrescu, being considered now transfer material by important clubs from Spain and Germany.

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