Eugen Trică has reiterated CFR 1907 Cluj's aim of booking a UEFA Cup spot, yet to do that they may need to repeat their Matchday 1 victory against AS Roma, and this time the Italian side have Francesco Totti.
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Eugen Trică has reiterated CFR 1907 Cluj's aim of finishing third in Group A and booking a place in the UEFA Cup, even if to do that they probably need to repeat their Matchday 1 win against AS Roma. And this time the Giallorossi have the "major threat" of Francesco Totti.
CFR's shock 2-1 victory away to Roma on Matchday 1 has been the undoubted highlight of the Romanian outfit's first UEFA Champions League group-stage campaign. However, since that heady evening in the Italian capital – when two Juan Culio goals catapulted the Transylvanian club on to back pages across the world – they have taken only one point from three games, albeit against 2007/08 runners-up Chelsea FC.
Now, following back-to-back defeats by FC Girondins de Bordeaux, the Liga 1 titleholders are propping up Group A; not that Trică is too downhearted. "We said right from the start that our main objective was to finish third and qualify for the UEFA Cup, seeing as this was our Champions League debut," said the striker. "After our first two extraordinary performances, many said we would reach the knockout stage, but we remained realistic. Third place will be fine."
Even that seemingly modest goal will not be easy. Two points short of Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup spot and with a trip to Stamford Bridge on Matchday 6, CFR must beat Roma to entertain any notions of extending their European adventure beyond Christmas. Indeed, Trică appreciates his team have it all to do, and does not have to think long about their likely obstacles. "Totti will be a major threat, there's no doubt about it – he didn't play against us in Rome, and I think he will have a major influence this time round," he continued, adding that the Serie A side are anything but a one-man band. "[Mirko] Vučinić is also important for Roma up front. In fact, there are probably seven or eight players who could cause us problems."
Trică may be keen to highlight the potential damage Totti and Co can inflict, yet his own availability following suspension could be equally telling. The 32-year-old's inventive attacking play was a major factor in CFR's early Group A successes, and it was only by the width of a post that he failed to turn the Chelsea draw into a win, his fizzing drive hitting the upright in the closing moments. Roma have been warned.