FC Steaua Bucureşti have be having a rather mixed season but there is a real saving grace in the form of Bogdan Stancu.
Steaua lie seventh in the Romanian table, ten points adrift of leaders FC Oţelul Galaţi, but the 23-year-old is the league's top scorer with 12 goals and national coach Răzvan Lucescu has said: "
The future belongs to Stancu." The form which saw Stancu score both goals in Sunday's 2-2 draw with CFR 1907 Cluj could come in handy when Liverpool FC visit in the UEFA Europa League.
Three points behind the Reds in Group K but two ahead of SSC Napoli and FC Utrecht, a win would take Steaua through if the other sides draw in the Netherlands. "Considering where we are in the league, a victory against Liverpool and qualification for the next stage would save our year," Stancu told UEFA.com "They have players who are worth €20m or €30m and they make up a great team."
Stancu's goalscoring has not been confined to domestic football; he scored twice in the 3-1 Matchday 4 win against Utrecht in addition to a first-leg winner against Grasshopper-Club in the play-offs and his first strike for Romania in September's 1-1 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying draw with Albania. However, he does not feel the absence of Liverpool regulars Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger will make his task significantly easier against Liverpool.
"It would be lethal for us to pay any attention to Liverpool's three absentees, because they have so many skilful players who can replace them," said Stancu. "If you just picked a Liverpool side from the bench and those outside the 18-man matchday squad, you would still have a very strong team. It would also be a huge mistake to judge them by their position in the Premier League."
Stancu's side lost 4-1 to Liverpool on Matchday 1, despite going in at the break at Anfield level at 1-1. "We had an excellent first half, but after the penalty which made it 2-1 to Liverpool, we collapsed and I don't understand why," Stancu recalled. "The fact is that we could not play at the same high standard in the second half."
However, he hopes such inconsistency will not be in evidence in Bucharest. "If we are totally committed and play as a team, if the fans fill the stadium and get behind us, we will have a chance," he said. "A lot depends on the outcome of the other match in our group, but it would be a huge mistake to think about what will happen in Utrecht. We have to mind our own business.
Our fate is in our hands and we are well aware of that."
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