After a week rich in football events, Romania still has chances to be represented in the Champions League
After a week full of football events, Romania still has chances to be represented in the Champions League. FCSB, better known in Europe under its old name, Steaua Bucharest, has managed to qualify for the League's play-offs, after defeating the Czech side Viktoria Plzen 4-1. In the first leg, in Bucharest, they had tied 2-all. So, Romania's vice-champion is moving on. The team trained by the young coach Nicolae Dica cut a nice figure on the field, managing to attack sharply and to ensure a compact defense, and so they are now right at the gates of the most important European inter-club competition. What counted a lot was the good game and the experience of the players transferred from Romania's 2016 champion, Astra Giurgiu: Denis Alibec and the Portuguese Filipe Teixeira and Junior Morais.
At the press conference held after the game, coach Nicolae Dica said:
"I want to congratulate the guys for what they've done tonight. They have shown character and unity. Their game was very good and that is why we've managed this qualification."
Experience in European confrontations was exactly what Romania's champion Viitorul Constanta lacked in the third preliminary round of the League. After defeating on home turf APOEL Nicosia 1-0, the team trained by the former big player Gheorghe Hagi lost nil-4, away from home. The difference was made by the two overtime sessions. APOEL, a genuine multinational, made up of mature, experienced players, was too hard a nut to crack for the young Romanian footballers. Viitorul Constanta, however, remains in the European competitions, and will play in the Europa League's playoffs.
The teams that represented Romania on Thursday, in the third preliminary round of Europa League were eliminated. Dinamo Bucharest lost nil-3 to Athletic Bilbao, away from home, after a draw in Bucharest. CS Universitatea Craiova was defeated by AC Milan on San Siro, 2-nil, and Astra Giurgiu lost to Ukraine, in Oleksandria, nil-1, after an 0-all draw at home. Astra's elimination was a surprise, but it can be explained by the fact that more than half of the team with which it had made it to the European spring last season has been sold in the meantime.
Dinamo and Craiova, former European Cup semifinalists in the 1980s, were faced with really powerful opponents, so they did not really stand a chance. The two teams have not played in Europe for a long time now, so, with low UEFA coefficients, they have not managed to make it to the next stage. The only satisfaction they have is that they had the opportunity to play, on an equal footing, against two big European teams.