A gulf in class

Or, from Hope to Anger in Two Easy Steps. Extraordinary scenes at two contrasting venues on Friday night. Read on for Academia Rapid v CS Progresul 2005, in Liga 4; and Romania v Armenia, in the World Cup qualifiers. Continue reading

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This Sporting life

Fotbal Club FCSB v Sporting Clube de Portugal

Champions League play-off round, second leg.

Wednesday 23rd August 2017. 9.45pm.

Arena Nationala, Bucharest.

Ticket price: 40 lei (£8).

Weather: shorts and t-shirt.

As soon as I climb, wheezing slightly, to my seat, within spitting distance of the top of the upper tier, it is clear that this is to be a match whose intricate details will pass me by. For this spectator there will be no arbitration of niggling fouls, no psychological analysis of a coach in a technical area: even identifying identifiable players is likely to be troublesome. Coupled with my difficulties in tactical understanding, this could make for a frustrating evening: what exactly am I going to get out of this? Continue reading

Go fourth!

Expunge from your mind anything you’ve read which claims that the top tier is worth bothering with (even my more than adequate post from the other day). The division to watch this season is going to be Liga 4 București. Today the capital’s municipal football association (AMFB) announced the teams that will make up, at least on paper, the strongest line-up in any local football division since the national championship became a league in 1932. Continue reading

Where are they now? Euro 2000 squad (part 1)

Euro-2000 lineup first match
Lining up before the first game: Romania v Germany. [Source: click.ro]
Although perhaps less celebrated than the 1994 World Cup side that famously beat Argentina, the Euro 2000 squad contained twelve of Romania’s twenty most capped players of all time – including the top three in Munteanu, Hagi and Popescu – as well as its joint top scorers of all time, Hagi and Mutu. But the “golden generation” which had made its first major tournament appearance at Italia ’90 was very much on the way out. There were four survivors of the 1990 squad: Hagi, Popescu, Lupescu and Stelea (Petrescu had been injured in 1990). Petrescu and Hagi had both featured in Steaua’s 1989 European Cup final defeat, and Belodedici had even played in the triumphant 1986 final, fourteen years earlier. Hagi trumps this (natch) with two appearances, as a teenager, at Euro ’84… Continue reading

St George’s Day?

The Liga 2 promotion race is almost over. This Sunday, second-placed Sepsi OSK Sfântu Gheorghe are away at struggling CSM Metalul Reșița, where a point will guarantee a place in the top tier for the first time in their short history. (The fact that the game will take place in Ghermănești, a seven-hour drive and 550 km away from Reșița itself, is incidental and merely indicative of the malaise in which this country’s football finds itself. See this blog passim, if you’re not easily depressed by things like this.) This is terrific news because it allows me to shoehorn some undercooked socio-political material into this post.

Sepsi’s rivals for second place, UTA Bătrâna Doamnă, slipped up big time during their midweek game, following up a good win away at Timișoara by losing at home to mid-table Balotești, who should have had nothing to play for. The “Old Lady” of Arad now has only one game left to play, while Sepsi have two remaining fixtures in which to find one solitary point and condemn the Aradeans to a tough play-off with the third-bottom Liga 1 club. Continue reading

The King rules OK

Last Saturday night, Viitorul sealed their first-ever league title with a 1-0 win over CFR Cluj, thanks to a second-half penalty, in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,500. Goalscorer Gabi Iancu returned to Hagi’s club last summer from Steaua/FCSB, whose 3-0 victory at home to CSU Craiova secured them the second Champions’ League spot – ahead of city rivals Dinamo, whose draw with Astra Giurgiu made no difference to their final position of third. Got that? FCSB’s Gigi Becali still believes that the League’s regulations are unclear and intends to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, in the hope of having the trophy awarded to his club. Continue reading