For only the second time since the Second World War, teams from outside Bucharest occupied the top two places in the Romanian league table – FC Unirea Urziceni and FC Timişoara – while deposed champions CFR 1907 Cluj kept the Romanian Cup in the provinces.
Champions: FC Unirea Urziceni
Promoted to Liga 1 for the first time in 2006, Unirea richly deserved their maiden Romanian title. Coach Dan Petrescu, who took charge not long after promotion, worked wonders with a modest squad, of whom only Lithuanian goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis and midfielder Iulian Apostol are current internationals. The likes of Apostol, George Galamaz, Valeriu Bordeanu, Marius Bilaşco, Marius Onofraş, Dacian Varga, Tiberiu Bălan, Răzvan Pădureţu and Sorin Frunză had struggled to make their mark at previous clubs, but will play in the UEFA Champions League next season.
Cup final: CFR 1907 Cluj 3–0 FC Timişoara
CFR's attempt at a championship defence did not amount to much – hardly surprising given they went through four coaches in the campaign: Ioan Andone, Maurizio Trombetta, Dušan Uhrin Jr and António Conceição. However, they came good in a one-sided Romanian Cup final with goals from Ciprian Deac, Sixto Peralta (a penalty) and Juan Culio. "We were the better team by far, but I did not expect such a big gulf in class because Timişoara were a very good side in the league," said Conceição.
Unirea – UEFA Champions League group stage
Timişoara – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
CFR – UEFA Europa League play-off
FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti – UEFA Europa League play-off
SC Vaslui – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Steaua Bucureşti – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Player of the Season: George Galamaz (FC Unirea Urziceni)
In a season where no individual player stood out from the pack, 28-year-old defender Galamaz epitomised Unirea's selfless style. Petrescu's aim was to build a team without stars, where hard work was the key to success, and his captain led by example being a model of consistency and sportsmanship.
One to watch: Mihai Roman (FC Braşov)
Right-sided midfielder Roman began the campaign as a non-entity in Romania, having played in all four divisions below the top flight prior to gaining promotion with Braşov last term. The 24-year-old learned fast in the élite league, however. Three goals in 31 league games earned him a senior international debut in Romania's 1-0 friendly win against Lithuania on 6 June.
Surprise package: FC Braşov
Promoted in 2008 under Răzvan Lucescu, Braşov battled unsuccessfully for a European position until the last day, even after their young coach was put in charge of the Romanian national team in April. An unflashy side made up of top-flight journeymen and unheralded youngsters, their mean defence and unbeaten home record possibly merited more than a ninth-placed finish.
Leading scorers: Gheorghe Bucur, FC Timişoara, and Florin Costea, FC Universitatea Craiova (17)
Of the 14 clubs who avoided relegation, eight are expected to hire – or have already appointed – new coaches this summer.
"It is a dream for me and my players. I would even say it is a miracle. Anyhow, after having denied them and told them to drink only still water, now they deserve permission to drink as much as they want of whatever they fancy."
Unirea coach Dan Petrescu celebrates winning the title.
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