Poli - Universitatea Craiova 1:1 (0:1)

The white-violets gifted two points to their opponents on Saturday, after what was an ugly display of football, particularly during the first half.

Craiova scored first as M. Costea took advantage of a Bonfim blunder, just before half-time. Poli were more determined as the second half commenced and the equalizer came in the 63. minute, as Mera easily pushed the ball past the line after a free-kick. Controversy arose immediately, as our defender was accused to have fouled (a claim that Mera has admitted to), and Mitchell, of Craiova, slammed him to the ground, before throwing a bit of a punch towards Arman Karamyan. The referee pretended he didn't see anything, complacent in his obliviousness, and only two minutes later Mera was sent off, after a fairly reckless tackle which, under different circumstances, may not have warranted more than a yellow. Poli could've have still easily won the match, as Arm. Karamyan, Bucur and Chiacu had great scoring opportunities, but all three failed to convert.

Despite the disappointment, this match has to be put behind us as soon as possible, given that a vital Europa League game is up for grabs on Thursday.

Poli: Pantilimon (5) - Bonfim (4,5), Mera (5,5), Nibombe (6,5), Art. Karamyan (5) - Arm. Karamyan (4,5), Alexa (6), Bourceanu (5,5), Goga (5) - Bucur (5,5), Parks (6)


Cl. Ionescu (6,5) for Goga (min 45)
Scutaru for Bourceanu (min 71)
Chiacu for Parks (min 74)


RC: Poli - Sanatatea Cluj 7:0 (2:0)

Easy pickins for Poli today against third league club Sanatatea in the Romanian Cup.

Two goals a piece from Vrsic (one penalty), Magera and Parks, while Rusic netted the last goal of the match.

Poli: Taborda (6) - Latovlevici (6), Brezinsky (6), Scutaru (6), Dăruială (6) - Sandu (5), Vrsic (6,5), Chitu (6,5), Matei (5,5), Chiacu (6) - Magera (6,5)


Parks (6,5) for Chiacu (min 45)
Borbely (6) for Sandu (min 45)
Rusic (6) for Magera


FC Vaslui - Poli 0:1 (0:0)

All is fine when it ends fine, no?

Poli played a defensive and unattractive game at Vaslui and there were very few scoring chances throughout the match, but Goga's fine finish on Ionescu's cross made the difference. It's difficult to play competitively on three levels with the amount of players we currently have available, which might work as an excuse for the less than spectacular performances in the league. Nonetheless, as soon as the European adventure will come to an end, every point earned in the Liga 1 will prove most needed, so whether it happens this year, or next year, consistency will be key for the team's long term future.

As a side note, Wednesday from 6.30 Poli will be playing Sanatatea Cluj, in the Romanian Cup. The game can be followed live on sport.ro.

Poli: Pantilimon (6) - Bonfim (6), Mera (6), Nibombe (5,5), Art. Karamyan (6) - Stancu (5), Bourceanu (6), Alexa (5,5), Arm. Karamyan (5) - Goga (6), Cl. Ionescu (6)


Bucur for Cl. Ionescu (min 75)
Curtean for Stancu (min 86)
Parks for Goga (min 89)


Ajax Amstedam - Politehnica Timisoara 0:0

Fact is, playing in European competitions is not an evenly balanced affair. Ajax spent on one player (Sulejmani) more than our team did in the last five seasons put together. Implicitly, seeing how the teams do not fight with the same weapons, so to say, then I reckon it is allowed for the teams to fight in different styles. Sure, an ultra-defensive game is not a joy to behold, but it is an efficient way to get the most out of what you have available. It just makes sense that the burden of proof should lie on the team with the bigger budget, so any failure to create a spectacle is foremost to be blamed on that team. That is, if anyone is up for assigning blame, because in the end, it's all football.

The white-violets did a splendid job defending in front of a superior Ajax eleven, and they even created a couple of good opportunities, but first Parks couldn't reach a Bucur cross in the 40th minute, and then Stekelenburg saved an excellent shot from Goga, in the 48th minute. The home side had two very good periods in the first half, after the start of the match and around the 20th minute, when they piled on the pressure, but the Poli defence and Pantilimon did well to keep the ball out of goal. In the second half, particularly after Parks' substitution, it became harder for the white-violets to keep possession and Ajax controlled the match completely, but the nifty feet of Suarez, Pantelic, Cvitanich and Sulejmani had no solutions against the crowded Poli defence.

The end result is a great one for Poli, as we managed to grab a draw in one of the most prestigious football stadiums in the world. Any sacrifice is worth that, particularly in our debut year in the Europa League groups.

Poli: Pantilimon (7) - Bonfim (6,5), Mera (7), Nibombe (7), Art. Karamyan (6) - Goga (6), Alexa (6,5), Bourceanu (6,5), Curtean (5,5) - Bucur (5,5), Parks (6)


Stancu (5,5) for Parks (min 59)
Ionescu (5,5) for Curtean (min 66)
Poparadu for Goga (min 83)


Last Month's Review

I've been away and lazy in the last four weeks, so there were no updates to be had on the state of affairs at Poli. Unfortunately, things have been rather tough. The team did well to draw at nil against Urziceni, despite coming close to winning on a few occasions, after which a tepid 0-0 draw at Stuttgart sent the team into the Europa League. This result was followed by a disappointing 3-3 draw at newly promoted Unirea Alba Iulia, despite Poli taking a 2-0 lead in the first half, thanks to Bucur and Ionescu. It took Goga's late effort to draw, after a sloppy performance in the second part of the match. Yesterday the white-violets only managed another 0-0 draw, "at home" against Astra Ploiesti, who had also just rejoined the first league. Due to some maintenance works at the Dan Paltinisanu stadium, the match was played over 500 km away, thanks to Mr. Iancu, who cares so much about the fans that he wanted them to be exempt of live, on-location suffering.

The team's defensive play, manifesting itself through the use of two defensive midfielders, is not fundamentally bad, although the football is not a great sight to behold. The real problem is the lack of efficiency in front of goal.

With the EL draw sorting Poli with Ajax, Anderlecht and Dinamo Zagreb, it would obviously be a very difficult, if somewhat balanced, fight for qualification. However, Mr. Iancu claimed yesterday that the team would focus primarily on the league, which makes little sense in view of the fact that EL qualification is a historic feat for Poli. The reason behind this decision is the obvious financial hardship which nobody wants to acknowledge and the ensuing fact that the team only has about 17 strong players. With some injured, this makes tackling two competitions difficult.

Funnily enough though, all the top players are registered for the EL, so it's a mystery to me how they will be spared. If Sabau will be forced to rely foremost on the reserve players selected for the EL, one can be sure that the team will find it hard to avoid conceding less than fifteen goals in the matches ahead. Tragic tale, really.