Gloria Bistriţa - Poli (0:0)

A slow start for Poli with a nil-nil at Bistrița. Luckily, the other candidates didn't fare much better, with Steaua and Rapid losing against more modest adversaries, Vaslui struggling to a draw, with only Brașov and Dinamo coming 2 points closer to us, while CFR Cluj taking a step in front all the rest after defeating co-leaders Unirea Urziceni.

It's relevant to say that Bistrița is a much better team than it was in the autumn, with a young, ambitious Șumudică as coach (Sabău's former teammate at Rapid), and a handful of good new acquisitions. Among them, Moraes was the most dangerous, having a couple of decent shots and one spectacular display of technique in the second half, when after a brilliantly stopping a long ball, opened-up our defense to serve one of his teammates for a good opportunity. Sepsi might be having bad dreams after being overtaken by Hora a few times on the left flank. Otherwise, the whole defense seemed sturdy enough, and despite Gloria having a good deal of chances, they were mildly troublesome for Pantilimon.

Our big frustrations came from Parks who was set to miss any opportunity, no matter how big, like when he was one on one with the keeper, but the shot was terribly soft and predictable and numerous other occasions in which he was easily caught by the defenders, despite being well served by Magera. That brings us to another troublesome aspect: Poli had almost no inspiration when attacking. The most danger were such long balls, deflected by Magera, who also did well to cover defense as well. Alexa seemed not in the game, and substitutes Mejia and Ionescu didn't seem much better either. Kozak played well, as much as he could be seen, because a whole deal of the time his teammates decided not to bother and just throw the ball up front.

Luckily, after the biggest chance of the game, when Pantilimon swiftly dived at the feet of an escaped attacker in the beginning of the second half, Șumudică decided to make it easy for us, by pulling out two of the 3 most dangerous men he had - Hora and Băjenaru. Poli took control, but without ideas, the only real chances came from two free kicks executed by Magera over the bar.

A worrying start, but there still is time. The game needs to improve, the players need to start fitting in and especially an attacker needs to step up and prove himself. And that even if we only want to catch a European League spot.

Poli: Pantilimon (6,5) - Bonfim (6), Luchin (6), Nibombe (6), Sepsi (6) - Chiacu (5), Alexa (5,5), Kozak (5,5), Goga (5) - Magera (6), Parks (4,5)

Bourceanu (6) for Chiacu (min 56)
Mejia (5,5) for Kozak (min 62)
Ionescu (5) for Parks (min 70)


Vázquez out

Without any goal scored in the numerous friendlies played in the past weeks, Pablo Osvaldo Vázquez, who was meant to be the man to replace top goal scorer Gigel Bucur, has been dismissed by Poli.

In less than 15 hours Poli will play the first game of the championship restart, at Bistrița, against Sabău's former club. Let's hope for a victory and see how the new players turn out in this 3 month sprint for the title.

Go Poli!


Poli - Vojvodina Novi Sad 1:3 (1:1)

After unconvincing results with not so high-valued teams, Poli leaves Turkey with another defeat. Despite creating numerous opportunities through well-played passes, the players lacked composure at the final moment, with Parks distinguishing himself with his handful of misses. At the other end, Vojvodina was first to score at its first big opportunity, in the 21st minute. Magera scored the equaliser just before half-time, when Bonfim regained a lost ball, and managed to give the decisive pass. Afterwards, the Serbs managed to score on counterattack, while our team played with its chances.

Very appaling results, but that can be understood considering that Sabău tried out many players and different lineups. He also says that this training session was mainly concentrated on the physical fitness as their will not be any time for that in the gruelling 3 months ahead. All in all, he and the players are satisfied with the team's training, but Sabău was upset with the attitude of some of them during the friendlies.

There is nothing more to add. We just have to wait the first few games, starting a week from now, and then we can see where the team is headed.

Go Poli!

Poli - Tavria Simferopol 0:0 (0:0)

The match lasted only 60 minutes beacuse it couldn't continue due to problems with the lighting mechanism. Poli didn't have much to show until a penalty in the 30th minute, which was saved by Pantilimon. Mejía was the creator of two good opportunities, but the defenders resisted.

Dédé had to leave the pitch very prematurely in the 7th minute feeling some pain at his injured thigh. Despite saying that it isn't a new injury, it was latered discovered to be a muscle rapture, which means he will be unavailable for a month. If it is true that the contract was not finalized it is very probable that Poli will not continue with him.


Poli - Litex 1:1 (0:0)

Poli's big guns couldn't manage to repeat the performance of their less experienced teammates and could only obtain a draw in the second match of the day, against Bulgarian side Litex Lovech. After a very early goal in the second half, Magera scored the equaliser from a 22m free kick. Supić was to blame for the conceded goal, misjudging the ball's trajectory, heavily influenced by the wind. Mansour and Kozák have also played in this match, coming in in the 73rd minute.

Poli's lineup: Supić - Bonfim, Luchin, Scutaru, Sepsi - Bourceanu, Alexa, Magera (Kozák, 73'), Goga - Mejía (Mansour, 73'), Parks


Poli - Buducnost 1:0 (1:0)

Two games scheduled for today, the first one being against FK Budućnost Podgorica, current leaders in Montenegro. Poli played with a secondary squad, which included the three under 20 players - Fuchs, Dudaș, Dobriceanu. The last one, it seems, has had a good match, providing good passes and even a shot on goal. But the hero of the game is seen to be Ionescu, who scored the only goal of the match in the 13th minute, a powerful shot in the corner of the posts. Perhaps Sabău's words have made a mark on the player, who also had other good opportunities.

The worrying part comes from Vázquez, who is still unable to score, missing every opportunity he's had, no matter how good they are. It's troublesome, because he was brought to cover Bucur's departure, and up to now it was an utter failure. Let's hope it will change in time for the championship matches.

The match has also been the first one for Kozák and Dédé. The latter has managed to play for 83 minutes before needing to be substituted. The former came in in the 73rd minute.

All in all, it is a good result, especially considering our lineup and our opponent's standing in their league.


Possible transfer: Thiago Carleto Alves

Brazilian Carleto is the one Iancu talked about yesterday. He plays left-wing and is known for his powerful shots and free-kicks, which has gained him a comparison with Roberto Carlos. The 20 year old was raised by Santos, and it is said that clubs like Chelsea or Real Madrid were interested. Instead, in 2008 he joined Valencia. He didn't quite make it and, if all goes well, he will be loaned to Poli until the summer, with the possibility of a full purchase afterwards. His value seems to be evaluated at around €2.5 million. In any case, this is one of the biggest transfers made in Romania, especially when you consider that the seller is such a big club from a top European championship. More about it when the transfer is sealed.


Medical status and new guns

Dédé has joined the team and declares he is 100% fit. The club's doctors have not yet given their opinions. Maxim has undergone a simple surgery after an injury and will be out for about a month. Tiago Costa is said to have the same injury, but no surgery yet. And last and worst, Contra has suffered a muscle rapture. Poli's head phisician Teymoor Ahmadi has estimated that complete recovery will not take more than 3 weeks. Still, Contra will miss the first matches and who knows in what shape he will be after that. He can only hope that we can see him back on "Dan Păltinișanu", in a violet outfit, soon....

It seems that the old problems are back again, despite the club actually doing something to solve them. The flanks are still uncovered. While Sepsi plugged the hole in the back, Artiom's departure has umplugged another. And Maxim's injury doesn't help at all. The situation is the same where Stancu who could be used as a replacement at hand is gone, and the man who came to consolidate that side is now injured as well. Plus Gigel's departure has reduced our ofensive power a great deal, only when we consider that about 40% of Poli's goals came from the young striker.

Of course, this is the time for the others to rise up to the occasion and take over the role of goal getter. Goga is next in line, but Vázquez, Parks and Mansour must give their best, too.

Then again, the club was fast to act. Ján Kozák, a Slovak international and also selected as captain of the national team, has signed today. At 29 years old, 1m90, he plays offensive midfielder, and can be distinguished by his speculative passes. It sounds like a great transfer, and, as always, it's the hush-hush transfers that are the most worthy. It is interesting to see how he and Mejía will compete. On one hand we have a very young future talent, and on the other a footballer at the peak of his career. But I'm sure there will be enough matches for both.

It seems to me that Sabău now only has to make the right choices, adopt and prepare the players with the right strategies, and to motivate them. Iancu has already anounced another spectacular transfer for tomorrow. A left-wing. Let's wait and see.

Poli - Spartak Moscova 2:4 (0:1)

Another defeat, but this time against a much more worthy adversary. It is still hard to put a verdict, but surely expectations will be higher for the final matches before the season restart. Sabău has commented against the attitude of some players. If it's only that, it can be solved. It seems that Sepsi and Mejía have integrated well and are up high on Sabău's list. The latter has even scored a goal, lobbing the goalkeeper who mistakenly rushed out after a ball at about 35m. The other one was a header from Nibombé.

On the other hand, the team will surely suffer from the recent transfers (the Karamyan twins and Gigel Bucur) and from the injuries. Vázquez has also been a disappointment up to now. Let's just hope it is only because of an accomodation period.

Poli's lineup: Pantilimon - Bonfim, Nibombé, Brezinský
, Sepsi - Chiacu, Alexa, Bourceanu - Goga, Vázquez, Mejía

Luchin for Brezinský (45')
Magera for Chiacu (45')
Mera for Nibombé (65')
Supić for Pantilimon (73')
Scutaru for Mejía (73')
Chiţu for Sepsi (74')
Ionescu for Goga (78')
Dobriceanu for Ionescu (87')

Ionescu had made a mistake in that led to Spartak's fourth goal and that is, perhaps, the reason he had only played 9 minutes, going out 3 minutes before full time.

Goodbye, and thanks for all the goals!

It seems that, after all, communications were reestablished with the Russians and Gigel Bucur will no longer play in violet, but will join Kuban Krasnodar and his former coach from Sportul, Dan Petrescu. Poli will gain €1.8 million in the transfer and Bucur will be paid with up to €600,000 a year, way more than our club could ever offer. It's wise of him at almost 30 years to search financial input, even though his career is still far from over, and we must respect his decision.

In Romania he has only played for two teams: Poli Timișoara (2005-2010) and Sportul Studențesc (1998–2005), a wonderful team that always provided generations of talented football players. Bucur's was one of the best. At Timișoara, after a slow start, he has become an emblamatic player for the club. He alone has scored so many goals for Poli as the other strikers have scored in their careers. When he was in a bad period we would cry out, but when he was scoring match after match we would be cheering again and again. All of his goals were important, especially the ones that brought points for the team and it is only fit that he is the one who scored in the now legendary win against Dinamo last year. Also, we cannot forget that it was his two goals against UEFA Cup Winners Shaktar Donetsk that etched another brilliant performance in the club's history.

Alas, as all stories must come to an end, we can only thank Gigel for the joy (which, ironically is what is last name means) he has brought us in the 5 years he has spent with Poli, and never forget him. The club's history will surely always bear his name.

Thank you!


Poli - Shangdong 1:2 (0:1)

The team has returned to Lara, near Antalya, for the second leg of training. Without the Karamyan brothers who have signed with Steaua, but with Cosmin Contra back in the violet t-shirt. Čišovský has also joined the other players, but only to work in the gym on his recuperation. He estimates that he will be able to play an official game somewhere in April. The Angolan Dédé is also on the list, although for some unknown reason we do not know his medical situation after his injury during the first match of the African Cup of Nations.

A surprise is the drafting of Chițu (left midfielder) and of 3 young players from the second team, all midfielders: Răzvan Dobriceanu, Marian Fuchs, Alexandru Dudaş. Chițu was originally loaned to Bistrița, but, probably because of Artiom's departure made this opportunity possible.

The first match of the second leg, unfortunately, ended the same as the last one of the first leg. Shangdong are a Chinese team, currently on the 4th position in their league. The first half meant Sepsi's and Contra's first game for Poli. Despite the opportunities going only our way, the one's to score were the opponents, close to the end of the half. The second lineup included Chițu and Dobriceanu, and managed to score a goal through Mera, after a corner kick in the 52nd minute. Similar to the first half, the Chinese were the ones to score again, despite a lot of misses from Poli.

Sabău is quite upset with some of the players' attitudes, but let's hope they will be focused as the official matches draw near.

Video footage:

Poli lineup:

1st half: Pantilimon - Tiago Costa, Luchin, Nibombé, Sepsi - Contra, Bourceanu, Mejía - Goga, Vázquez, Mansour

2nd half: Supić - Scutaru, Mera, Brezinský, Chiţu - Alexa, Dobriceanu, Chiacu - Ionescu, Curtean, Magera