FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti hope a white-hot UEFA Cup atmosphere at their stadium will help them overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit against SL Benfica.
Trailing to Fabrizio Miccoli's late strike last week, Dinamo director Cristian Borcea bemoaned his side's lack of sharpness after the game, saying: "I am sure we would have played much better if we had had at least one or two competitive matches before going to Lisbon."
However, while defeats for Dinamo and FC Steaua Bucuresti in last week's Round of 32 first legs are likely to result in a shortening of the Romanian winter break, Dinamo and their free-kick specialist frontman, Claudiu Niculescu, are not about to lose hope of reaching the last 16. "Benfica have the advantage of playing in their domestic championship while we have come into the tie from a two-month break. However, if we get our act together and show more concentration and determination, we will have a real chance of qualifying."
With eight goals in the competition since the first round - and ten since qualifying - Niculescu has inspired Dinamo to the spring campaign of a European tournament for the first time in 17 years, though it may require a partisan home crowd to take the club further in the UEFA Cup. The 30-year-old Romanian international said: "We need the full support of our fans. We need them to put huge pressure on our opponents from the first minute." Defender Stefan Radu exhorted the supporters to "make as much noise as possible - we need a huge effort on the pitch and in the stands to qualify."
Thanks to Niculescu and his strike partner, captain Ionel Danciulescu, Dinamo do not lack scoring prowess, but playmaker Catalin Munteanu is not losing sight of the team's defensive duties against Benfica. "It wouldn't be clever to attack Benfica and get caught napping at the back," he said. "If we concede a goal, we would have to score three to progress and that would be a catastrophe," he explained. "We have to be careful and build slowly but I know we will create chances. I know our potential and we can score at least once. We are ready for extra time so our fans will have to be patient."
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