Euro 2016: Romania will look to their defence

With Vlad Chiriches calling the shots, Romania conceded just two goals in qualifying

With home support behind them and having been drawn with Albania, Romania and Switzerland, could France be considered favourites to win Euro 2016? Emmet Malone reports on Group A.

 

Prospects

The most encouraging aspect of their qualification campaign was the fact that they conceded just two goals in 10 games, a remarkable feat even given the fact that the group’s top seeds imploded and its winners, Northern Ireland, managed just 16 on the way to first place. Romania have done well to get well to get this far and coach Anghel Iordanescu will not thrill too many with risk taking as he tries to go one better at the finals but they will believe that they can sneak the points required somewhere along the line. The 66 year-old has modest enough resources at his disposal in this, his third stint in charge, with even the likes of skipper Vlad Chiriches, once of Tottenham now at Napoli, only having played seven club games since Christmas and with nobody having scored more than two in qualifying, none of the team’s attacking players will keep opposition managers awake at night. Qualification as a third placed side would look an achievable target after which the team plane can probably start turning over its engines.

How they qualified

Romania would have fancied their chances of qualification from the beginning when they were drawn in a group with Hungary and Greece seen as the main threats. However, that was before Northern Ireland announced themselves on the international stage as a force to be reckoned with. In the end Michael O’Neill’s side topped Group F, with Romania just a point behind. Despite not losing a game throughout the whole campaign the Romanians were offset somewhat by five draws, including a 0-0 stalemate with bottom side Greece. However, in the end they had Greece to thank for beating Hungary 4-3 on the final day of qualifying to ensure the Tricolorii would automatically reach the finals in France.

Manager: Anghel Iordanescu

The Romanian boss definitely has one of the more interesting back stories out of all of the managers at this year’s tournament, having previously managed Romania during their most successful international spell, before being elected to the Romanian senate. Iordanescu is currently in charge of the national team for the third time. The 66-year-old led the side to the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup before knocking out England en-route to the quarter-finals of Euro 2000. In 2007 he announced his retirement from football to stand in the Romanian senate elections. He duly won his seat before being persuaded out of retirement in November 2014 to guide Romania to this summer’s finals.

Star man: Vlad Chiriches

The Romanian captain left Tottenham last season so join Napoli. Since then he’s only made a handful of appearances for the Italian club but remains the key figure at international level. In qualifying the Tricolorii had the best defensive record and much of that was largely thanks to their captain.

One to Watch: Nicusor Stanciu

Despite the fact that he is just 23, Stanciu has already made a big impact on the Romanian domestic stage - appearing 85 times for Steaua Bucharest. The playmaker has particularly impressed this season, helping his side to a Champions League qualification place. Stanciu has recently signed a new contract complete with a buy-out clause of €20 million. He is already attracting a lot of interest from some of the big players in Serie A and looks set to move on to bigger and better things in the not too distant future.

Final Squad

Goalkeepers: Silviu Lung (Astra Giurgiu), Costel Pantilimon (Watford), Ciprian Tatarusanu (Fiorentina).

Defenders: Vlad Chiriches (Napoli), Valerica Gaman (Astra Giurgiu), Dragos Grigore (Al-Sailiya), Alexandru Matel (Dinamo Zagreb), Cosmin Moti (Ludogorets),Razvan Rat (Rayo Vallecano), Cristian Sapunaru (Pandurii Targu Jiu).

Midfielders: Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua Bucharest), Steliano Filip (Dinamo Bucharest), Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Beer Sheva), Mihai Pintilii (Steaua Bucharest), Andrei Prepelita (Ludogorets), Lucian Sanmartean (al-Ittihad), Nicusor Stanciu (Steaua Bucharest), Gabriel Torje (Osmanlispor).

Forwards: Denis Alibec (Astra Giurgiu), Florin Andone (Cordoba), Claudiu Keseru (Ludogorets), Adrian Popa (Steaua Bucharest), Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi).

What President Trump says...

“I have only one question for the Romanians. What’s with the clothes? Why so baggy? Is it so they can hide other Romanians under there?”

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