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Romania entranced by title scramble

Published: Tuesday 23 March 2010, 10.11CET
A combination of mass inconsistency and unquenchable optimism is ensuring a grandstand finish to the season in Romania, with just two points separating the top six sides in Liga 1.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest
Romania entranced by title scramble
Timişoara remain in the hunt for a first Romanian title ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 23 March 2010, 10.11CET

Romania entranced by title scramble

A combination of mass inconsistency and unquenchable optimism is ensuring a grandstand finish to the season in Romania, with just two points separating the top six sides in Liga 1.

The quality of the football on offer in the Romanian league this season has been variable at times, but no one will deny that the seven-way race for the title is providing fans with plenty of drama.

Just two points separate the top six sides in Liga 1, with FC Rapid Bucureşti also still in the running a further three points back in seventh, with the inconsistency of all the title challengers providing more intrigue every week. CFR 1907 Cluj, who top the table, are a case in point, holding their place despite only winning twice in their first six games of 2010.

With both those victories coming by unconvincing 1-0 margine, Italian coach Andrea Mandorlini felt the need to put a positive spin on his side's situation. "As usual, we are creating plenty of goalscoring chances so obviously we have a problem with our forwards," he said. "But I am not worried because I'm sure in the next matches they will score lots of goals."

That combination of anxiety and unfettered optimism has been a common theme of post-match interviews among all of the leading clubs, with the sheer unpredictability of results allowing the top seven to keep dreaming. Even reigning champions FC Unirea Urziceni, who lost coach Dan Petrescu and star players Dacian Varga and Tiberiu Bălan in the winter, are not out of it.

The club's new coach Roni Levy has not had an easy start, with his side losing to Liverpool FC in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 and then kicking off the spring with games against fellow title challengers like Rapid, FC Timişoara and FC Steaua Bucureşti. However, four draws and a lone victory – 2-1 at doomed FC Unirea Alba Iulia – have somehow kept them in the running.

Unirea meet fourth-placed FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti in their next game, with the capital side having beaten arch-rivals Steaua 2-0 last week. With four wins and two draws since the turn of the year, Dinamo may be the league's form team, but they still trail an unconvincing Steaua and Timişoara, who are second and still in the hunt for a first title.

Back in sixth, SC Vaslui have similar ambitions, with their main investor, former FIFA referee Adrian Porumboiu, summing up the state of play in Romania eloquently with the words: "Sometimes we are excellent; sometimes disappointing. Either way, it's good that there are so many teams in the space of two points. That means excitement to the end and everybody will have their chances, including us."

Last updated: 23/03/10 10.44CET

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