Favourites to retain the Romanian Liga 1 title with seven games to play, FC Steaua Bucureşti are nonetheless experiencing a slight wobble in their attempts to cross the winning line.
The warning signs were there on 5 April when Steaua drew 0-0 at ACS Poli Timișoara, the only occasion they had failed to score in any domestic match this season, having last drawn a blank in the league on 28 April 2013.
Then, last Friday, Steaua lost 1-0 at home to FC Vaslui, ending a 33-game undefeated domestic run dating back to 19 May. Indeed, it was the first time any Romanian side had kept a clean sheet at Steaua since Vaslui themselves almost exactly two years earlier.
Although they have a healthy six-point lead over FC Astra Giurgiu, they have missed the chance to be the first unbeaten title winners since FC Dinamo București in 1991/92, Steaua having previously done it three years in a row between 1986/87 and 1988/89 during their European record sequence of 104 league fixtures without defeat. Now only AC Sparta Praha in the Czech Republic can end 2013/14 without a top-flight reverse.
Still, Steaua coach Laurențiu Reghecampf said: "Even the big teams lose, but I have to admit that Vaslui played better than us and deserved the victory. In the last two years Steaua have achieved plenty of things which we can be proud of.
"However, what happened on Friday was not OK. We did not have the same aggression and the same possession [as usual] and these are things which we must not repeat. But I have a lot of reasons to be sure that on Thursday, in the second leg of the FA Cup semi-finals against Dinamo [Steaua having won the home game 5-2], we will be in very good shape."
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