September 27, 2008

Romania: Liga 1, Clubs in the 2008-’09 Season.

Filed under: Romania — admin @ 5:39 pm


Romania’s Liga 1, at first glance, does not seem to be a league of much importance to the fan from abroad.  After all, the league averaged only 5,349 fans per game last season.  But the clubs from Romania who make it into European competitions have been extremely competitive,  both historically and in recent years. 

Currently,  Romania is ranked 7th by UEFA, for play in Europe.  The UEFA co-efficient rankings are calculated by the record of clubs in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup in the past five years.  The rankings are used to determine how many clubs from each country will qualify to compete for places in future Champions League and UEFA Cup seasons.  To see the current chart,  {Click here}.

Sure enough, two weeks ago,  a Romanian club made headlines for their play in Europe.  The first round of matches in the 2008-’09 Champions League featured a noteworthy upset:  an away victory by newcomers CFR Cluj over AS Roma,  by a score of 1-2. 

In May,  CFR Cluj had won their first Romanian title.  They were the first club  from outside the capital,  Bucharest,  to win the title since Universitatea Craiova were champions in 1991.  CFR Cluj ended up winning the domestic double , as they also won the 2008 Romanian Cup.    Here is an article on CFR Cluj  (and another unlikely Champions League success story, Anorthosis Famagusta, of Cyprus)  from Friday, 19th September  {Click here (CNN World site)}.

Here is a photo gallery and article on CFR Cluj, from the BBC Sport site  {Click here}.

Cluj-Napoca is a city of around 310,000 in north-central Romania.  It is the capital of the historical province of Transylvania .  The city boasts the largest university in the country,  and since Romania’s entry  into the European Union, in January 2007,  the city has become the country’s technopolis,  attracting a large share of software outsourcing {see this (from }.  CFR stands for Caile Ferate Romane (which is the national railway of Romania).  CFR Cluj had previously been in the top tier of Romanian football for just 7 years (1969-1976).   Young tycoon Arpad Paszkany bought the then-third division CFR Cluj in early 2002, and promised to have the club in the first division in 4 years.  They made it to the top flight in less than 2 years,  in 2004.  

Here is an article from last December, by Jonathon Wilson {Click here (The Guardian site) }, on CFR, the and their ambitious owner. 

In 2007-’08,  CFR won the title on the last day of the season, by one point.  They beat their city rivals,  the already-relegated Universitatea Cluj,  1-0,  thus denying Steaua Bucharest the title.  The club automatically qualified for the Champions League,  as first place in Romania now goes straight into the Group Stage of the CL.  In preparation for this,  CR Cluj has just expanded and upgraded their 10,000 seat home ground to a 25,000 seat, 3-star UEFA stadium.     


 The Romanian clubs currently playing in Europe

Steaua Bucharest are in the Champions League, Group F.  [They are the club with the highest number of Romanian tiles (23, the last in 2006)  and Romanian Cups (20, but none since 1999).  The club was formed as the team of the Romanian Army in 1947 {see their page on Wikipedia, here}.      Steaua won the 1986 European Cup,  defeating FC Barcelona 2-0 on penalty kicks.   {Click here for video (from a site called "Romania's Best").]   Steaua Bucharest play away versus Fiorentina on Tuesday, 30th September.

CFR Cluj are in the Champions League, Group A.  They play at home versus Chelsea on Wednesday, 1st October.

To see the UEFA site, set at the Champions League page  {Click here}.

To see the match-ups in the UEFA Cup, 1st Round,  from Wikipedia  {Click here}.

There are 5 (!) Romanian clubs in the UEFA Cup,  1st Round… 

Dinamo Bucharest.  [Formed in 1948 as the team of the Romanian Interior Ministry,  the club has won 18 Romanian titles (the last in 2007),  and 12 Romanian Cups (last in 2005).]   They trail NEC Nijmegen (of the Netherlands) 0-1,  with the second leg in Bucharest on Thursday, 2nd October.

Rapid Bucharest.  [Formed in 1923 by the merger of two clubs, under the aegis of the CFR (national railways);  the club has won 4 Romanian titles (the last in 2003) and 13 Romanian Cups (the last in 2007).]  They trail Wolfsburg (of Germany) 0-1;  second leg in Bucharest on Thursday.

Politehnica Timasoara were the highest drawing Romanian club last season.  They have a convoluted recent history {see this, from the Albion Road site}.   In the UEFA Cup 1st Round, they trail Partizan Belgrade 1-2;  second leg is in Serbia on Thursday.

SC Vaslui were founded in 2002, and first made it to the top flight in 3 years (a Romanian record).  They are even at 0-0 with Slavia Prague (of the Czech Republic);  second leg is in Vaslui on Thursday.

Unirea Urziceni are another recent arrival to first division football,  being promoted in 2006.  They hail from a town of just 17,000,  east of Bucharest.  They did well to hold the huge club Hamburg to a nil-nil draw,  in Germany;  second leg is Thursday in Urziceni. 

Thanks to the European Football Statistics site  {Click here},   for the attendance figures. 

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