Romania short on star power ahead of Euro 2016


Mihai Pintilii, right, in action for Romania. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

The post-Gheorghe Hagi era has not been particularly kind to Romania. Since his retirement in 2000, Romania has only qualified for one major tournament—and that was at Euro 2008 when they failed to win a game and bowed out in the group stage. This latest incarnation of the national team could use another Hagi to inspire them to glory in France, as they are short on star power and players who can bring a touch of attacking flair to the pitch.

Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tatarusanu (Fiorentina), Costel Pantilimon (Watford), Silviu Lung (Astra Giurgiu).
Defenders: Cristian Sapunaru (Pandurii Targu Jiu), Alexandru Matel (Dinamo Zagreb), Vlad Chiriches (Napoli), Valerica Gaman (Astra Giurgiu), Cosmin Moti (Ludogorets), Dragos Grigore (Al-Sailiya), Razvan Rat (Rayo Vallecano), Steliano Filip (Dinamo Bucuresti).
Midfielders: Mihai Pintilii (Steaua Bucuresti), Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Beer Sheva), Andrei Prepelita (Ludogorets), Adrian Popa (Steaua Bucuresti), Gabriel Torje (Osmanlıspor), Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua Bucuresti), Nicolae Stanciu (Steaua Bucuresti), Lucian Sanmartean (al-Ittihad).
Forwards: Claudiu Keseru (Ludogorets), Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi), Florin Andone (Cordoba), Denis Alibec (Astra Giurgiu).

A former national team member who earned over 50 caps, Anghel Iordanescu guided Romania to the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup, and the Round of 16 four years later. He later became a politician during a sabbatical from the sport, but returned for a second tenure as Romania manager in 2004. Ten years later, he came out of retirement to begin his third stint in charge of the national team, helping them qualify for their first European Championship since 2008.

4-2-3-1: (GK) Tatarusanu – (D) Rat, Grigore, Chiriches, Sapunaru – (M) Pintilii, Hoban – (M) Stancu, Stanciu, Torje – (F) Andone

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June 10: vs. France in Saint-Denis
June 15: vs. Switzerland in Paris
June 19 vs. Albania in Lyon

Romania finished second in a tight, competitive group that saw them battle it out with Northern Ireland and Hungary for top spot. It went down to the final matchday for the Romanians, who claimed second PLACE behind Northern Ireland, and just ahead of Hungary, with a win away to the Faroe Islands. Romania went undefeated through the qualifiers, with five wins and five draws.

In Ciprian Tatarusanu and Costel Pantilimon, Romania have two solid goalkeepers to call upon. As uninspiring as they looked in the qualifiers, they did manage to go undefeated and concede just twice, showing that they know how to grind out results. The Romanians are comfortable waiting in the weeds, letting opponents enjoy the bulk of possession before hitting out on the counter.

Romania doesn’t have a potent attack or a legit goal scorer up front—they scored just 11 goals in the qualifiers, mostly against modest opponents. Despite their defensive record (just two goals against) the back four looked very suspect at times. Several of Iordanescu’s key players aren’t starting for their clubs, so match sharpness could be an issue. With not many options on the flanks, Romania’s shape can be too compact at times.

Vlad Chiriches: Although not an automatic starter for Napoli, he’s a solid defender who offers Romania calm and solidity at the back.

Ciprian Tatarusanu: An excellent shot-stopper who often comes up big when forwards are bearing down on him. He earned even clean sheets during the qualifiers.

Nicolae Stanciu: An exciting young prospect who can make things happen in central midfield with his dangerous runs and deft touch on the ball.

Can they get a result against France? Romania has the unenviable task of facing the hosts in Saint-Denis in the opening match of the tournament. Needless to say that’s a pretty tough assignment, and chances are they’re going to walk away with nothing from that game, which puts more pressure on them in their final two outings. But if they can grab a result off the French, even a point, than Romania will set itself up with a chance to move on to the next round.

Opening the group stage with games against France and Switzerland is a pretty tough assignment. The French and Swiss are quality sides that showed well at the 2014 World Cup, and they have far more depth and quality than the Romanians. It’s not inconceivable that Romania could enter their third match against Albania without a point and needing a win to advance as one of the best third-place teams. But beating teams the calibre of France and Switzerland is just too much to ask of this modest Romanian side that will likely go home after the group stage.


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