Today in the 11th of 16 blogs I will look at a huge dark horse team in Romania. They will play their first match on June 9th against France.
On June 9, the Romanians will play what is their biggest match in the history of the football team against France at the Letzigrund Stadium. This match will prove to be the biggest match in Romanian history because with a win, they would be a threat to anyone in this tourney. With a win, Romania will prove that the Eastern European teams are on the rise. With more and more stars coming out of places like Romania, Russia, and the Ukraine, its very important for these countries to prove just how good they are. This team is one of those teams that has been on the edge of success, but have always seemed to fall apart and this year will be the year that they prove they are here to stay. If Romania keep all three group matches tough, it will be very impressive and will signify a strong side ready for an easier group in the World Cup. I'm ready to see what they can do, so let's look at some positives and negatives.
Strength- As I look at this team, one thing seems to really stick out to me. The defence for Romania is very good. As most Eastern Europeans are, they are very stingy and don't take a bunch of junk or give up many goals. In a qualifying group that included Holland (who are also in their EURO group), they only gave up 7 goals in 12 matches. That is nearly a .5 goal against average, which is wonderful. With Inter Milan Cristian Chivu and goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont anchoring the back, opposing sides won't be able to walk the ball in. Any team that can keep a game close can win and if you don't concede goals you can't lose.
Weakness- One big weakness of this side is the lack of depth. In a group with superpowers like Holland, France, and Italy, if you don't have depth you may be in for a long tourney. If players don't get injured and they are in very good shape, then the Romanians will be fine. But if the wrong players get injured, Romania will get slapped back into the Soviet Union.
Player to Watch- Well, this is very easy. Adrian Mutu of Fiorentina is the man to keep your eyes on. Much like Sheva for Ukraine, Mutu will look to come back and get the ball and relieve the defence of all that pressure. His main job will be to hold the ball and wait for help, then try to score a goal and he will also need to earn set pieces. If he wins set pieces and draws defenders to him, the Romanians can knock goals in from out of no where. Set pieces are the most important X-Factor in the tourney, and the Romanians will look to capitalize on them.
Prediction- Romania come out and impress everyone by the way they play, but they ultimately fall short and come in 4th in a very tough group.
Once again, thanks. Tomorrow, I'll look at Russia. Until next time, it's been Keeper and I'm out.