It’s Romania’s National Day, my family are away, and Voluntari are playing the league leaders at home. This has the makings of a day to be frittered away watching military parades, reading about football on the internet, and getting drizzled on near some mediocre sport. Continue reading
“Coming up this week: the giants of Charlton play host to the titans of Ipswich… making them both seem normal size.” …as David Mitchell says so portentously in this marvellous clip.
This Saturday – Rapid v Steaua – is a clash between giants and titans, two of the biggest clubs in the country facing off in (of all places) the fourth division, almost the bottom level of the senior football pyramid. The occasion permits us to pretend. Continue reading
My second Academia Rapid home game – again well attended, but seriously lacking in quality and notable mainly for the appearance of the much-loved 40-year-old striker Daniel Pancu, is detailed here.
Excitingly, Romaniaballs also paid a visit to second-division Metaloglobus București in far-off Pantelimon. Field notes here.
Direct your mouse pointer or index finger to the “I was here” section on the menu if you want more whimsical, inaccurate match ‘reports’. And who doesn’t?
In other good news for the old guys, 39-year-old Bogdan Lobonț showed the strength in depth of Romanian goalkeeping by being named in the provisional squad for the national team’s World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Denmark. “Lobby”, a former team-mate of Pancu’s at Rapid, before going on to play for Ajax and later Dinamo, won 85 caps between 1998 and 2013. He is now in his ninth season at AS Roma, where he has made the grand total of 22 competitive appearances for the club. This man, who was the oldest member of the squad when he last featured for Romania in 2013, is apparently still considered the country’s fourth-best goalkeeper four years later, despite not having played a competitive match at all during the intervening time.
The squad was selected the day before Christoph Daum’s successor as national team boss, Cosmin Contra, started work at the federation. The qualifiers, incidentally, are dead rubbers, since Romania can no longer qualify for Russia 2018. The club Contra has just left, Dinamo, have appointed Chiajna coach Vasile Miriuță to replace him; they have lost to FCSB and Chiajna in the week since then and the Pit is not a happy place. The team Miriuță coached last season, CFR Cluj, now under Dan Petrescu, are still top of the table and going strong.
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
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