Romania relaxed for Russia rendez-vous
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Having achieved their "objective" of reaching the knockout stage, Romania head into their quarter-final against Russia, a side they lost 2-1 to in qualifying, with the pressure off.
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Romania approach their quarter-final against Russia, the teams' second encounter in the 2013/14 UEFA European Futsal Championship, under "no pressure" as they strive to break new ground by reaching the last four.
The Tricolorii took the lead after 66 seconds − only to succumb 2-1 following first-half strikes from Sergei Sergeev and Aleksandr Fukin − when the sides met in main round Group 3 in Latvia last March, a result which ultimately consigned Romania to the play-offs.
Ten months on they go head-to-head again following Romania's second-place finish in Group A behind Ukraine, the nation they lost 1-0 to having opened the tournament with a resounding 6-1 defeat of Belgium. Russia, the 2012 runners-up, scored 11 times in winning Group B on goal difference ahead of Portugal.
Nelu Stancea, assistant to Sito Rivera when Romania reached this stage in Croatia two years ago, told UEFA.com that his team will be "the outsiders" at the imposing Sportpaleis, adding: "We had the objective to be in the quarter-finals, but that doesn’t mean we don't want to go further. However, there is no pressure on us.
"The players are ready. They've had two or three days of training since our last game and we want to make sure they're at their full potential. I hope we'll be fully ready at the start of the match."
Mindful of the expectation on Russia's shoulders, not just for this tie but for the tournament as a whole, captain Nikolai Pereverzev will not be taking Romania lightly, with Pula absent suspended. "We've see many unpredictable results here and it would be dangerous for us to underestimate them. We are absolutely focused."
The MFK Tyumen player, on target in the 4-4 draw with Portugal on Saturday, hinted that Russia were keen not to show their hand during the group stage, conscious their rivals for the title will have been monitoring their performances. "We have some combinations and set plays which we haven't used yet as we know that other teams watch our matches and analyse our game intensely," he explained.
Stancea stressed that his charges must be at "100% to win the match". He is, though, taking confidence from the way they performed against their opponents in qualifying. "It was a good game for Romania," he said of the fixture in Jelgava. "We could've won it, but we also could've lost it by more than one goal."