For those of us of a certain vintage, the sight of Romania evokes memories of the 1994 World Cup, of Gheorghe Hagi and Ilie Dumitrescu, of that remarkable victory over Argentina in Pasadena. Sadly, they don’t have players like that anymore. They do, however, have the same manager. After a brief spell in the Romanian senate, Anghel Iordãnescu returned to national service in 2014 for a third time and took his country to only their third international tournament of the century. But what are they like as a team?
Romania’s strengths are obvious to anyone who has taken a glance at their qualifying campaign. They finished their group unbeaten, having conceded only two goals in ten games. And when you watch them, it doesn’t take long to see why.
In their most recent friendly, a 0-0 draw with reigning European champions Spain, they picked up yet another clean sheet, holding out for a well earned goalless draw.
There are few stars in this team, at least not of the calibre of Hagi & Co. Goalkeeper Ciprian Tãtãrasanu, nearly two metres of him, is a regular for Fiorentina and captain Vlad Chiriches is at Napoli, but that’s as glamorous as it gets. Of the starting line-up against Spain, four play in Bucharest, three at Steaua, one at Dynamo, and the others are from fields as eclectic as Israel, Qatar and Turkey. But that means fewer egos to deal with, something that Iordãnescu will doubtless appreciate given that he used to try to tell Hagi what to do on a daily basis.
Chiriches is the authority at the back, dropping deep and allowing himself the room and the time to snuff out any dangerous developments. The full-backs, Steliano Filip and Cristian Sãpunaru are diligent, but they’re well protected by the wingers, particularly Adrian Popa who looks utterly tireless. With Ovidiu Hoban and Mihai Pintilli providing a two man shield in midfield, Romania can get very compact, very quickly.