City'US Târgu Mureş forward Robert Lupu feels his side are in the "toughest possible group" as they travel to Lisbon to face Sporting Clube de Portugal, Iberia Star Tbilisi and Győri ETO FC.
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Romania's City'US Târgu Mureş are hoping for a happier experience in Lisbon this season as they prepare to get elite round Group C under way on Wednesday against hosts Sporting Clube de Portugal – one of three sides to defeat them at this stage last term.
Forward Robert Lupu will be eager to ensure a different outcome this time around and he is one of a core of Romanian national team players in the Târgu Mureş side with previous experience of this competition while at FC CIP Deva, who beat another side in Group C, Iberia Star Tbilisi, two years ago. The section also features Győri ETO FC, who possess Romanian players of their own, and Lupu told UEFA.com that his team must be considered outsiders.
UEFA.com: Do you think you can reach the finals? What would be a good result?
Robert Lupu: It's the toughest possible group. It's a pity that only the winners qualify. Yes, CIP Deva beat Iberia, but we'd played together for almost five years at that time. Now, at Târgu Mureş, we have played together for almost two years. A good result would be to get four points. That would mean beating Győr and getting a draw in one of the other two matches.
UEFA.com: You lost to Sporting last year, also in Lisbon. Can you close the gap this time?
Lupu: It was disappointing, but I think it will be a bit different now. They dominated us throughout the whole game a year ago, but now I'm confident it will be much more difficult for them.
UEFA.com: Győr boast two of your Romania colleagues in Ioan Al-Ioani and Gabriel Dobre. How difficult will it be up against them?
Lupu: Dobre has always been a key regular. Al-Ioani had a difficult period when he was without a team, but he had the strength to come back and become a key player for the national side once again. Overall, though, I think that we're a better team than Győr.
UEFA.com: How much difference does home advantage make in this competition? How did it benefit you in the main round?
Lupu: It's very important to play at home, because you know your own stadium perfectly, as it's where you train daily. Marca [who beat Târgu Mureş 5-2 in the main round] have a budget 30 times bigger than ours, but playing at home was extremely important. There are plenty of small but very important details related to your home stadium – and, of course, there's the fans too.
UEFA.com: The UEFA Futsal Cup mini-tournaments are over very quickly. How does a club make sure the players peak for a four-day period that could make or break their season?
Lupu: It's very difficult. We play friendlies on two or three consecutive days and our training sessions are extremely intense and aggressive, because in these sorts of mini-tournaments there isn't time to recover. We apply the mini-tournament schedule to our real life when we train, because we have to be fit every day.