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Season review: Romania

Published: Tuesday 10 June 2014, 15.00CET
"We have revolutionised Romanian football," said departing coach Laurențiu Reghecampf as he reflected on a second successive title-winning season at FC Steaua București.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest
Season review: Romania
Florin Gardoş epitomised Steaua's solidity this season ©Getty Images

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Published: Tuesday 10 June 2014, 15.00CET

Season review: Romania

"We have revolutionised Romanian football," said departing coach Laurențiu Reghecampf as he reflected on a second successive title-winning season at FC Steaua București.

FC Steaua București steamrolled their way to a second successive Romanian title – and a 25th in total, extending their lead over 18-time champions FC Dinamo Bucureşti in the all-time rankings. Beaten just once in the league all season – 1-0 at home by SC Vaslui - Laurențiu Reghecampf's men slipped up again, losing the cup final on penalties to league runners-up FC Astra Giurgiu.

Champions: FC Steaua București
Reghecampf's departure for Saudi Arabian side al-Hilal SC at the end of the campaign brought an end to a glorious two-season spell for Steaua, featuring two titles, a Super Cup, qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stage, and an adventure in the UEFA Europa League round of 16. With a team dominated by local talent, little changed from last season, a 1-0 win at FC Universitatea Cluj ending the title chase on 8 May. "It is a success which I will cherish until the day I die," said 34-year-old midfielder Lucian Sănmărtean, who won his first Romanian title, having joined Steaua in the winter. "Now it's time to drink a glass of champagne and get some rest."

©Niculae Profir

Astra celebrate their cup success

Cup final: FC Steaua București 0-0 FC Astra Giurgiu (aet, Astra win 4-2 on pens)
It was not the most spectacular final, but it certainly dramatic and close. The first half was short on chances, while Steaua goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu and Astra counterpart Silviu Lung were the dominant forces thereafter, producing string of saves to push the match towards a shoot-out, the dismissals of Steaua's Sănmărtean (54) andAstra forward Denis Alibec (98) failing to shift the balance. "We deserved it and I have to take my hat off to my players," said Astra coach Daniel Isăilă. "I was always confident that we would win the cup and that's what we did."

European places*
FC Steaua București – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FC Astra Giurgiu – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Petrolul Ploiești – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
CFR 1907 Cluj – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation by UEFA

Player of the Year: Florin Gardoș (FC Steaua București)
There is no official player of the year award in Romania, but if there was, defender Gardoș would be in the running to receive it. The 25-year-old joined Steaua in 2010, impressing for Romania's Under-21s but failing to make a breakthrough until Vlad Chiricheș moved to Tottenham Hotspur FC last summer. Along with Lukasz Szukala, Gardoș forged a near-unbreachable central defensive bloc; his side conceded just 20 goals in the league all season, while his tally of international appearances ticked up to 12 by the end of the campaign.

©Lysien Nurishmi

Cristian Manea in action for the U17s

One to watch: Cristian Manea (FC Viitorul Constanţa)
For the second year in succession, Viitorul successfully battled against relegation, though once more it took until the final day of the season to be absolutely certain; they finished 12th, with only three points separating ninth from 17th in the final reckoning. A revelation late in the season, national Under-17 captain Manea played just five league games but did enough to become Romania's youngest ever senior international, featuring in a 1-0 friendly win against Albania in Switzerland on 31 May at the age of 16 years and 295 days.

Surprise package: FC Astra Giurgiu
Perhaps surprise is not the right word; since returning to the top division for the second time at the end of the 2008/09, it has been pretty much upwards all the way for Astra. In 2012/13 they finished fourth and qualified for Europe for the first time. This time around, they were runners-up and claimed their first major trophy, the Romanian Cup. Coach Daniel Isăilă takes the credit, though he was briefly replaced by Florin Marin earlier in the campaign. "We worked hard and it was a perfect season," said Isăilă. It will be a huge challenge to improve on this mark in 2013/14.

Leading scorer: Liviu Ion Antal, SC Vaslui (15)

Relegated: SC Vaslui**, ACS Poli Timișoara, AFC Săgeata Năvodari, ASC Corona Brașov

Promoted: CSMS Iași, ASA Târgu Mureș, FC Rapid București***, CS U Craiova***

** refused a licence for 2014/15
*** subject to final confirmation

Number: 199
The number of foreign players who featured in the 2013/14 Liga campaign, breaking the record of 196, set in 2008/09.

Quote: "When I came to Steaua two years ago, I said that I was the best. Together with my colleagues and with the players, we have revolutionised Romanian football."
Coach Laurențiu Reghecampf leaves the world in no doubt as to his opinion of the magnitude of his work at Steaua

Last updated: 10/06/14 17.58CET

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