Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 32: Steaua Bucharest

Ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League qualifier against Steaua Bucharest, we caught up with Romanian football journalist Emanuel Roşu. Emanuel has contributed to many publications, including the BBC, Guardian, and Goal.

First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! Tell us about Steaua Bucharest, and what problems they can cause City?

It’s a pleasure. I’m sure Steaua and Bucharest will be pleasant memories for the traveling City fans. You must expect a lot of passion from Steaua’s players, this is definitely the game of their lives for many. The stadium will be full, but that doesn’t mean huge pressure for City, as the ultras are not in the stands following a long-lasting conflict between the ownership and the Romanian Army, the club’s former patron. The atmosphere will definitely be a good one.

Steaua is trying to play a combative, reactive game, Bundesliga style. The manager, Reghecampf, played in Germany for many years and used to compare his philosophy to Jürgen Klopp’s at Borussia Dortmund. Steaua’s number 10, Nicolae Stanciu, is a gifted, skillful offensive midfielder, the creative courage Steaua will have relies hugely on his form.

Steaua will put up a fight, will be motivated and will show determination. The difference between the two clubs is huge, but if Steaua manages to stay clean until half-time, that will be an immense boost for their confidence. Biggest problem for Steaua: the defence. So you can imagine the normal panic the fans are in considering City’s quality up front.

What was the reaction in Romania when the draw was made? Are the locals confident of springing an upset?

I’m not sure about the confidence, but I think that they felt encouraged by the good performance against Sparta Prague, in the 3rd qualifying round. People are up for a good game, the European presence is guaranteed in the Europa League, so this is a bonus game.

I think a fan’s answer would be that one’s delighted to welcome City. It wasn’t the case for manager Reghecampf, who admitted he wanted anybody BUT City.

Steaua are an unknown commodity to most Manchester City fans, so tell us – who are the key players we should look out for?

Stanciu, a creative, smart, in-form number 10. He always had the skill, good speed, good vision, but lacked consistency until last season, when he became a strong presence in the first 11. He is a player to watch.

Hamroun, who is very good with the ball, is also a player who can trouble defenders, while Popa, with his astonishing speed, can cause damage as well on the wing. Unfortunately for Steaua, his decision making is not always top class.

Are there any vulnerabilities in the Bucharest side that City can exploit on Tuesday night?

I’d say that the right-back Enache – who’s naturally a right wing and has even played as a striker before moving to Steaua – could be forced to improve hugely to ensure he stays safe on Tuesday. Also, the very probable absence of captain Pintilii will trouble Steaua in midfield and they must find a proper replacement there.

Finally, your team and prediction for Tuesday’s game?

Nita; Enache, Tamas, Tosca, Momcilovic; Bourceanu, Achim; Popa, Stanciu, Hamroun; Golubovic

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