Romania have only ever won one of their 13 games at the European Championship, against England in 2000, but optimism is on the up. With no big names in the team, the Tricolorii hope to cause an upset or two with an approach that’s rather at odds with Romanian football traditions.
Lessons from qualifying
Possession isn’t everything. Romania are happy to concede possession and then counter, even against opponents they’d previously have looked to assert authority over. This is a team built on unity. Nobody is irreplaceable, and as unknown quantities that could be a help, not a hindrance.
With no commanding presence in midfield and a rather resigned attitude going forward (Raul Rusescu has one goal in 10 caps), Romania rely on organisation and efficient pressing. That hasn’t always been enough against modest opposition, let alone group rivals France or Switzerland.
Most likely to…
Unearth a new coach. Anghel Iordanescu picked three out-of-contract managers as his assistants, with the intention that one of them could become his successor.
Least likely to…
Crown a new all-time top scorer. Adrian Mutu returned home to force his way into Euro 2016 contention.He hasn’t succeeded, and will stay stuck on 35 goals, level with Gheorghe Hagi.
What they hope will happen
Clean sheets against Albania and the Swiss will see them squeeze out of the group.
What will happen
Romania qualify in third place, but lose in the last 16 to an England side seeking some payback for Euro 2000 heartache.
Key player - Nicolae Stanciu
The quest for a new magical No.10 could end with Stanciu, a highly rated attacking midfielder with Steaua Bucharest. Diminutive and determined, the 23-year-old is one of the few Romanian players capable of making an impact in a big European league.
Manager - Anghel Iordanescu
Iordanescu came out of retirement in 2014, eight years after quitting football for politics. The 66-year-old led Romania to the last eight at USA 1994, and agreed to return for a third spell in charge after Victor Piturca moved on.
Q&A - Vlad Chiriches
It’s your first tournament and Romania’s first since 2008 – what does it mean to you?
For my generation, this is a big moment. Considering the state Romanian football has been in for some years now, reaching the group stage is a big achievement. Playing for the national team and representing an entire country can’t be compared with anything else in the world. I’d give anything for a big Romania performance at Euro 2016.
You start against hosts France in the tournament curtain-raiser…
It’s the cherry on top of the cake to meet France in our first game – I’m thrilled we’re going to play the opening match. It’s for moments like these that you fall in love with football when you’re a kid.
What should people expect from this Romania team in France?
I’m dreaming of a historical performance. I know it’s going to be difficult but nobody can take our dreams away. The word that perfectly describes our team is unity. We are a generation of players that made things possible thanks to our collective efforts.
Results and fixtures
June 10, France - Saint-Denis, 3am
June 15, Switzerland - Paris, Midnight
June 19, Albania - Lyon, 3am
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Group F runners-up
vs Greece (A) 1-0
vs Hungary (H) 1-1
vs Finland (A) 2-0
vs N. Ireland (H) 2-0
vs Faroe Islands (H) 1-0
vs N. Ireland (A) 0-0
vs Hungary (A) 0-0
vs Greece (H) 0-0
vs Finland (H) 1-1
vs Faroe Islands (A) 3-0
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD
1984 Group stage
1996 Group stage
2008 Group stage
Words and interview Emanuel Rosu
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