Part 2: From Dubrovnik to Bucharest: This is the year of Eastern European soccer

Romania.
There is a Hindi word called Romanchak that means entertaining and the Romanian squad has been playing that sort of soccer in their 2008 Euro qualifiers. Not since Gheorghe Haji, Florin Raducioiu, Marius Lacatus, Ilie Dumitrescu, Dan Petrescu, and Adrian Ilie in the 90′s, have the Romanians looked so good. Of course, they have their established stars in Adrian Mutu, Paul Codrea, and Christian Chivu but they also have a group of rising talent in VfB Stuttagrt’s Ciprian Marica and AJ Auxerre’s Daniel Niculae who have scored a number of goals in the 2008 Euro qualifiers.
Their midfield is anchored by two Steaua Bucuresti standouts Nicolae Dica and Banel Nicolita. Dica has been impressive with his dead ball skills and has already scored four. Veteran midfielders CSKA Sofia’s Florentin Petre and Siena’s Paul Codrea’s impeccable service has provided Mutu and Marica with many opportunities for goals and the Fiorentina man and his Vfb Stuttgart strike partner have been on target with 11 goals. Mutu has been prolific with 22 goal attempts. Dorian Goian, the 6′ 5″ central defender has been a force with his defending and his propensity for scoring goals in the box with his aerial ability. His opportunistic goal against Netherlands gave them a vital three points He is now the target of Man Utd transfer rumours.
In fact, the Romanian defence has contributed six goals in the campaign with AJ Auxerre’s Gabriel Tamas and veteran Getafe defender Cosmin Contra amongst the goals. Christian Chivu continues to be a threat with his swerving free kicks. Razvan Rats anchors the left back position. Victor Piturca has at times employed five backs in a modified defensive formation with Goian and Tamas going up front.
Romania is in Group C, the group of death along with France, Italy, and Netherlands. You could not have asked for tougher opposition. But the Romanians have already had the measure of Netherlands in the qualifying rounds and the way they are playing they should really be able to push the Italians and the French, and with a little bit of luck thrown in, look capable of getting past them.
Romania’s march into Euro 2008 >>
A closer look at the Romania squad celebrating their victory with some terrible singing >>

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