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

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Those were the days

The British football monthly When Saturday Comes runs a feature in the back, where they review a season from times gone by and track what has happened since then to selected teams and individuals. I thought it would be fun to do that for the Romanian league. Let’s see if I’m right. Cast your mind back to a time when the iPhone was brand new, Avril Lavigne was a superstar, and the USA had its stupidest ever president… up to that point… Continue reading

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