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)