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Ciprian Marica was "sorry" to have to face a second team from his native Romania with VfB Stuttgart this season, but was determined to mete out the same treatment to FC Unirea Urziceni as his side did to FC Timişoara.
A 2-0 win in his homeland and a 0-0 draw back in Stuttgart were enough for Marica's men to dispense with Timişoara in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, but the striker – who celebrates his 24th birthday on Friday – was more than a little disappointed to be returning home again so soon, with his side looking to earn their first Group G win at the Steaua Stadium in Bucharest.
"I want to make it clear from the start that I am very sorry to be playing against a Romanian team," said the former FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti player, who joined Stuttgart in 2007 after playing under compatriot Mircea Lucescu at FC Shakhtar Donetsk. "I don't want to play against my countrymen, but on the other hand I am a professional and I give everything for my team."
Praise for Petrescu
The 35-times capped Marica conceded he was "here in Bucharest to win and pick up points" but praised the side that won a maiden Romanian title in 2008/09, saying: "Dan Petrescu is an excellent coach and it's to his credit that he led a team of not-so-highly rated but good and dangerous players to the title and the group stage."
'The better team'
However, sentiment will play little part in what comes next for Marica, even though Unirea feature his Romania team-mates Vasile Maftei and Iulian Apostol. A 1-1 draw against Rangers FC on Matchday 1 has left Stuttgart with little room for manoeuvre in a section which also contains Sevilla FC, Marica concluding ominously: "We are the better team and we will have to win."
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