FC Steaua Bucuresti and FC Dinamo Bucuresti are both in title contention as the Romanian championship concludes.
By Paul-Daniel Zaharia
The Romanian title race reaches a thrilling climax on Saturday when either FC Steaua Bucuresti or FC Dinamo Bucuresti will taste championship success.
Just one point separates the country's two most-trophied teams going into the final round of matches, with Steaua holding the initiative. The leaders welcome sixth-placed FC Politehnica AEK Timisoara on Saturday and victory would be enough to secure a first title since 2001 and a place in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.
But Steaua have been inconsistent of late, dwindling away a six-point advantage after a slump that saw them lose three and win two of six fixtures, and Dinamo will be ready to pounce if they slip up again at the weekend. The reigning champions travel to mid-table FC Arges Pitesti.
It is a must-win game for Dinamo, otherwise a Steaua draw or defeat would see their rivals triumph by virtue of a superior head-to-head record – two 1-0 victories. Ioan Andone's side will also have one eye on third-placed AFC Rapid Bucuresti, who could steal second spot and qualify for the UEFA Cup if they prevail at CF Sportul Studentesc and Dinamo lose.
That sequence of events would deprive Romanian Cup runners-up FC Farul Constanta of a UEFA Cup qualifying berth: Farul's hopes of a European place resting on cup winners Dinamo sealing a top-two finish. The picture is clearer at the bottom, where FC Apulum Alba Iulia, FC Brasov and FC Universitatea Craiova are already doomed.