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Season review: Romania

Published: Tuesday 12 July 2011, 10.28CET
Recent tradition was respected as FC Oţelul Galaţi lifted a maiden title to deny the Bucharest sides for a fourth straight year though FC Steaua Bucureşti won the Romanian Cup.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest
Season review: Romania
Cornel Râpă (right) in action for champions Oţelul ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 12 July 2011, 10.28CET

Season review: Romania

Recent tradition was respected as FC Oţelul Galaţi lifted a maiden title to deny the Bucharest sides for a fourth straight year though FC Steaua Bucureşti won the Romanian Cup.

The misery continued for the traditional giants from Bucharest as FC Oţelul Galaţi secured their maiden Romanian crown to keep the title away from the capital for a fourth consecutive season.

Champions: FC Oţelul Galaţi
They may lack star names, but Oţelul trod an impressive route to glory thanks to a core group of players who have been together for more than five years. They also featured a number of budding talents from Romania's Under-21 side and, with coach Dorinel Munteanu – the country's most-capped international – pulling the strings, hard work, honesty and team spirit were to the fore. The team from the eastern harbour city of Galati moved top for the first time in their history in September and resisted the challenge of FC Timişoara, downing the eventual runners-up 2-1 in their penultimate fixture before ending the campaign four points clear. Both sides remained unbeaten at home, but Oţelul signed off with the largest number of victories (21) and the division's second most miserly defence (25 conceded).

Cup final: FC Steaua Bucureşti 2-1 FC Dinamo Bucureşti
Reunited for the first time in the showpiece since 1990, the capital rivals played out a hard-fought decider that ended with Steaua celebrating a record 20th triumph in the competition and their first in 12 years. Nicolae Dică put the Red and Blues in front with a superb free-kick, but they required an own goal from Ştefan Bărboianu shortly after the break to seal victory after Gabriel Torje had equalised with a set piece of his own.

European places
FC Oţelul Galaţi – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Vaslui – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Steaua Bucureşti – UEFA Europa League play-offs
FC Rapid Bucureşti – UEFA Europa League play-offs
FC Dinamo Bucureşti – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
CS Gaz Metan Mediaş – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Player of the year: Gabriel Paraschiv (FC Oţelul Galaţi)
The official award is handed out at the end of the calendar year, but Paraschiv merits plenty of praise. The champions' oldest and most experienced player, the 33-year-old weighed in with six goals and helped captain Sergiu Costin maintain balance within the side, impressing with his attitude and commitment. It was also Paraschiv who took a lead in suggesting the club lower salaries as the consequences of the financial crisis began to be felt.

One to watch: Gabriel Torje (FC Dinamo Bucureşti)
After almost four years in the thick of the action with Dinamo, 21-year-old midfielder Torje has become a regular starter for the Romanian national team and a player whose reputation continues to rise. Dinamo's fans have huge expectations of the gifted wide man, hoping he can use his undoubted ability to win silverware for the club.

Surprise package: CS Gaz Metan Mediaş
A seventh-placed finish in 2010/11 represented a new high for the Medias side, whose name (literally, methane gas) reflects the fact that their home town is close to a large natural gas field. Locally-born coach Cristian Pustai's fourth season in charge saw his side excel as a solid, orderly outfit, with Brazilian striker Eric de Oliveira hitting 15 goals, second only to league top scorer Ianis Zicu. An unexpected bonus came as they were handed a UEFA Europa League place, after second-ranked Timişoara failed to obtain a playing license for next season.

Leading scorer: Ianis Zicu, FC Timişoara (18)

Number: 15
The number of Oţelul's 21 league successes that came by one-goal margins; a Romanian record and a reflection of Munteanu's pragmatic approach.

Relegated: FC Timişoara, ACF Gloria 1922 Bistriţa (both for financial reasons), FC Universitatea Craiova, FC Victoria Brăneşti, FC Unirea Urziceni

Promoted: FC Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ, CS Concordia Chiajna, FC Petrolul Ploieşti, CS Mioveni, CSU Voinţa Sibiu

"I congratulate my players who've been able to play for the national team in the last few months. They deserve it, though I don't know much it benefits our team. All of them need to keep their feet on the ground and give their best for us. That's the only chance they have of being picked for the national team again."
Oţelul coach Dorinel Munteanu warns the likes of Cornel Râpă and Silviu Ilie to maintain their high standards

Last updated: 12/07/11 12.35CET