Buoyed by scoring his first international goal, on-loan striker Raul Rusescu is hoping for "sort-of revenge" when FC Steaua Bucureşti take on Rio Ave FC.
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Twice defied by Rio Ave FC during a loan spell in Portugal last term, Raul Rusescu told UEFA.com he is out for "sort of revenge" as FC Steaua Bucureşti meet the Portuguese side in UEFA Europa League Group J.
When Rusescu left Romania for Sevilla FC in summer 2013, he was fresh from his best season yet, having scored 21 league goals in Steaua's title-winning campaign. However, he played just one Liga game for the Rojiblancos – and six more in the UEFA Europa League and Copa del Rey – before being farmed out to SC Braga for the spring. He was then loaned back to Steaua this summer and the 26-year-old admitted to UEFA.com he is still not sure where he is going next.
"I was happy at Braga, but I don't honestly know what will happen when my loan here expires in summer 2015," he said. "Steaua have first option, but it's too early to talk about that and about my future. For now, these matches against Rio Ave are a chance for me to get sort-of revenge. Rio Ave eliminated us in two semi-finals last spring – the Portuguese Cup and the League Cup – and I played all three games." Rusescu also scored against Rio Ave in a 1-1 Liga draw, yet as he noted: "It was still not a victory."
The Romania forward will certainly be telling his team-mates what to expect from Rio Ave. "I know they have changed coach and some players have left, but I am sure the main characteristics remain," he said. "The most important thing is that they love to have the ball. Even though they have lost two games in the UEFA Europa League, they are a good side and we will take them seriously. For us and them, these are two crucial matches. They are playing for survival, whereas two wins for us would almost certainly see us qualify.
"They will be two open, exciting matches and there should be plenty of goals," continued Rusescu. "The most important thing for us is to impose our game on them, because we have players who can make the difference. But it is also very important that we understand our opponents."
Rio Ave, meanwhile, should recognise that, in Rusescu, they are facing a player whose confidence is renewed. If five goals in 13 Liga outings represented a decent return on his Portuguese adventure, he has since scored three in his first two Group J appearances and – more importantly – hit his first for the national side in a 1-1 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw with neighbours Hungary on 11 October before featuring in a 2-0 win against Finland three days later.
"It's a very, very nice feeling to score for your country, especially because it was my first time in the starting XI and also was my first goal," the six-times capped Rusescu said, adding with a little remorse: "But it was much more important for us to win against Hungary – the victory was what we really wanted."
Nonetheless, the belief gained from those performances should feed back into Rusescu's club form. "The goal I scored and the national team's ranking in their group have given me a massive lift," he observed. His "sort of revenge" on Rio Ave could yet be sweeter still.