The Romanian First Division resumes this weekend, a week later than anticipated due to adverse weather conditions, and the nation's fans are eagerly awaiting what promises to be an enthralling title race with just seven points currently separating the top six.
FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti currently hold a one-point lead at the summit, an advantage that could prove crucial, but the leaders have had a turbulent winter break. Spanish coach Esteban Vigo stepped down without taking charge of a competitive fixture, before Cornel Dinu turned down the role. Ion Marin was eventually installed, and he adopts a team sated by the arrivals of Dan Alexa, Ionel Danciulescu and Cosmin Barcauan, the latter on loan from FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
It remains to be seen what effect that will have on the side but should they falter, champions FC Steaua Bucuresti are poised to take advantage. They also have a new coach, Cosmin Olaroiu, while the gaping hole left by the departure of Belarus goalkeeper Vassili Khomutovski to FC Tom Tomsk has been filled by Carlos Alberto Fernandes. The Portuguese soon made an impression in the UEFA Cup, helping the side reach the last 16, along with city rivals AFC Rapid Bucuresti.
Lying sixth after the first half of the season, Rapid could find the three-way fight for league, UEFA Cup and Romanian Cup – where they have reached the semi-finals – too much as they strive to reel in Dinamo. Coach Razvan Lucescu is certainly going to do his best, however, having brought in Romanian internationals Viorel Moldovan and Daniel Pancu, although midfielder Marius Maldarasanu is out for a month with a knee injury.
FC National Bucuresti are third, five points behind Dinamo and, like fifth-placed CFR Ecomax Cluj-Napoca, are largely unchanged. Instead, FC Universitar Politehnica Timisoara appear to be the team to watch. Under coach Gheorghe Hagi, no less than half a dozen players have been brought in, including Péter Simek, Ifeanyi Emeghara, Sreten Stanić and Vladimir Gluscević. Bottom club SC Vaslui would love such luxuries as they seek their first victory of the season and look likely relegation candidates.
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