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Stubborn Steaua standing firm

Published: Friday 9 September 2005, 8.05CET
Monthly review: FC Steaua Bucuresti's defence of the Romanian First Division title has got off to a good start with no goals yet conceded.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest features

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Published: Friday 9 September 2005, 8.05CET

Stubborn Steaua standing firm

Monthly review: FC Steaua Bucuresti's defence of the Romanian First Division title has got off to a good start with no goals yet conceded.

FC Steaua Bucuresti's Romanian title defence has got off to an impressive start.

None conceded
The champions replaced FC Dinamo Bucuresti at the top of the table three games into the season, and one round later are still to concede a goal. They may have been ousted from the UEFA Champions League by Rosenborg BK, but their 1-0 away win against FC Arges Pitesti and goalless draw at highly-rated FC Politehnica AEK Timisoara have shown that Steaua are again the team to beat as they prepare for a UEFA Cup first-round tie against Vålerenga IF.

Farul revenge
FC Farul Constanta are also unbeaten and level with Steaua. A point behind the joint leaders are Dinamo, who faltered in their third match as Farul gained a 1-0 away victory as revenge for their Romanian Cup final defeat.

Andone question
Dinamo then bounced back by beating lowly CS Politehnica Iasi 2-0, and can look forward to a UEFA Cup tie against Everton FC. However, their mixed performances had led shareholders to question coach Ioan Andone, who has been given a vote of confidence.

National surprise
The third capital club in the top four, FC National Bucuresti, are springing a surprise. They lost several key players in the summer yet have only dropped points and conceded in one game, a 4-0 loss at Steaua.

Unbeaten duo
Along with Steaua and Farul, two other teams are unbeaten, fifth-placed FC Sportul Studentesc and CFR Cluj in seventh. The latter overcame promoted FC Vaslui 3-0 but have had three draws, maybe jaded by their run to the UEFA Intertoto Cup final.

Rapid falter
However, the other expected contenders, AFC Rapid Bucuresti, are not in such good shape. They might have scored 14 goals in four UEFA Cup ties to earn a showdown with Feyenoord, but since edging past Vaslui 1-0 on the opening day they have taken only two more points. Coach Razvan Lucescu was even sacked by majority shareholder George Copos, but reinstated 12 hours later due to player pressure.

Newcomers struggle
CS Pandurii Lignitul Târgu Jiu remain pointless since promotion, and sacked coach Targu Jiu. Second division FC Caracal refused to allow Nicolae Ungureanu to leave, so Pandurii Lignitul turned to the experienced Viorel Hizo. With CS Jiul Petrosani only just ahead of Vaslui and Pandurii Lignitul, the newcomers occupy the bottom three spots with two points between them.

Last updated: 09/09/05 17.10CET