Team profile: Romania look to upset Group of Death

On paper Romania look to be the punchbag of Euro 2008’s Group of Death but it would

be foolish to discount them from turning the tables on their rivals.

The Romanians do not boast the trophies of reigning world champions Italy or of 2006 World Cup finalists France, who have two European titles and the 1998 World Cup to their tally, or indeed the pedigree of The Netherlands. But they topped their qualifying group ahead

of the Dutch, drawing with them and then winning the return 1-0.

In the rather sombre coach Victor Piturca they have as astute and tactically sound handler as anyone would wish to have and he will have the resounding support of his players.

The squad will be seeking to prove that the likes of outstanding central defender Christian Chivu and striker Adrian Mutu can more than outdo their glamorous predecessors like Gheorghe Popescu, Gheorghe Hagi or Florian Radicioiu who helped Romania to the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals.

The coach is known for his plain speaking.

It cost him the national coaching post the first time round when he told Popescu and Hagi

that even if they had qualified for Euro 2000 they were not guaranteed places in the squad let alone the first team.

He has not relented from that strategy in his second spell having told Mutu that he would be dropped if he thought he was not on form, but he remains fiercely loyal in the large part to his squad. “I will mainly pick players who helped us qualify for the finals. There cannot be any surprises,” Piturca, known as ‘Piti, was quoted on the UEFA website as saying.

Players such as Chivu, Mutu and Cosmin Contra owe their initial international blooding down to Piturca’s first spell in charge but the coach has not been afraid to hand younger players their debuts during the qulaifying process.

For Chivu, who has starred in Inter Milan’s Serie A title chase this season, there is all to

play for. “We will fight for glory, respect and for the fans. Our national team is about glory,” the 27-year-old said.