I’m sorry I haven’t a cluj

As September begins, we can proudly report that Romanian football teams remain in UEFA competitions! Continue reading

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Leaving it late

I have been in Romania a fraction over four years. In that time I have had the (often dubious) pleasure of watching my adopted team, Rapid Bucharest, compete in the first, second, fifth and fourth divisions, in that order. (This encompasses three different entities, trading under three slightly different names, but no need to over-complicate at this stage, eh?)

Yesterday I completed the set, with my (and their) first Liga 3 game. Since Rapid’s last appearance in European competition, an aggregate defeat to Heerenveen six years ago*, the club has: been relegated to Liga 2 twice – once for failings on the pitch and once for off – spent almost four years insolvent, won promotion to Liga 1 twice, been wound up, been restarted in the county leagues as (to date) four separate entities, and won promotion from both the fifth and fourth divisions. The life of today’s Rapid fan has not been easy, but neither has it been boring. Continue reading

90stalgia (part 3)

It’s 28 years ago to the day since Romania’s traumatic World Cup evening in Genoa. Here is part 3 of the story of their Italia ’90 experiences. Click here for part 1 or, alternatively, here for part 2.

AND SO IT BEGINS…

…on Saturday 9th June in Bari, at 5pm, officially in front of 42,000 people (although it looks a lot less than that on the telly). It’s the second day of the competition, and Romania face 1988 European Championship finalists, the Soviet Union. The tournament’s only match so far has yielded the biggest shock in decades: defending champions Argentina, fully equipped with their top-of-the-range Diego Maradona, going down 1-0 to outsiders Cameroon. Continue reading

News dump

Universitatea Craiova won the cup final 2-0 against AFC Hermannstadt, in front of an impressive 30,000-strong crowd at Bucharest’s national stadium. It is Craiova’s first trophy for 23 years. (Or, if you don’t consider it to be the same club since it was re-founded in 2013, their first ever!)

Having just won the Liga 1 title, Dan Petrescu has said goodbye to CFR Cluj Continue reading

90stalgia (part 2)

28 January 1990: a friendly match at Olympique Marseille. The pre-match picture shows something unfamiliar: a national team with a sponsor’s name across the front of their shirts. Stranger still, this is the national team of an Eastern Bloc country. Something is changing…

romania in marseille from prosport
Romania line up before the friendly with Marseille. [Source: prosport.ro]
Brief résumé: Romania have qualified for a World Cup for the first time since 1970, by beating Denmark. One of their best players has defected. Oh, and there’s been a revolution which has deposed the dictator after a 22-year reign, so the country is on the road to freedom, democracy, unregulated privatisation, rampant consumerism, etc.

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Badger parade

As an acknowledged expert on the arcane and bewildering world of Romanian football, people often stop me in the street to ask me questions, such as “Do you speak English?” or “How do I get to the metro station?” I don’t mind; it comes with the territory. This week, I’ll address a question on the blog, and perhaps it can become a regular feature.

cfr
Dan Petrescu celebrates with his CFR colleagues. [Source: gazetanord-vest.ro]
In the Derby of the Romanians Who English Football-Watchers Have Heard Of, last Sunday evening Dan Petrescu’s CFR Cluj held their nerve to beat Gheorghe Hagi’s Viitorul 1-0, denying second-place FCSB (who beat Astra by the same score at the same time) any chance to pip them to the Liga 1 title. With CFR taking the only Champions League spot, FCSB, Craiova and Viitorul will all go into the Europa League qualifying rounds this summer. Meanwhile next Sunday’s Romanian Cup final will pit a resurgent Universitatea Craiova, who finished third, against Liga 2 runners-up Hermannstadt. Even if the underdogs win the cup, Sibiu’s finest will have no European adventure next season since they didn’t apply for a UEFA licence.

So, today’s question comes from loyal reader G.B., of Pipera: “Why don’t Steaua ever win anything any more?”  Continue reading