first team / Steaua Bucharest - OL D-1

Bucharest… on the road to qualification

Published on the 25 September 2006 à 18:43 by R.B

Just like last year, Match Day 2 of the Champions League group phase pits two first round winners together. And we know what Lyon did against Rosenborg last September…

With hindsight, Gérard Houllier acknowledged the importance of that 1-0 win in Norway on the road to qualifying. Steaua destroyed Dinamo Kiev in the Ukraine 4-1 and the French champions gave a footballing lesson to Real Madrid for the second successive season. A second win, this timein Bucharest, will be a major step towards the knockout stages of the competition.

On paper, Tuesday’s opponents should offer stiff resistance. Last season’s UEFA Cup semi-finalists, the Romanians passed via the qualifying rounds of the Champions league where they overcame Standard Liege of Belgium. Their striker Dica and Badea don’t pose too many questions and certainly aren’t afraid of Lyon: “For me, OL doesn’t mean that much to me, I was more impressed by Real Madrid. Why not qualify second behind the Spaniards? We are very ambitious…” Cyril Théréau, the first Frenchmen to play in the Romanian first division isn’t taking any backwards steps either! Unpredictable, spectacular, he used those words, amongst others to describe Romanian football in general, and the living legend Gheorghe Hagi in particular. The local game speaks of it’s latin origins to which they have added their own steely touch. With their central defensive pairing of Goian and Ghionea, gscoring goals is never an easy prospect. The former is over 1.90m, the latter is thereabouts, as is the goalkeeper Carlos Alberto Fernandes. And then, even if it was a while ago, Steaua can also draw upon their illustrious past during which they lifted the European Champions Cup in 1986.

OL never takes their opponents for granted, whether it be in France or in Europe. Already many observers consider this team to be stronger than that of last season, despite the departure of Djila Diarra, and Juninho and Co march together, with their talent, soldarity and intelligence towards more titles. Certainly Lyon crushed Lille in 20 sublime second half minutes and the rivals to their domestic dominance seem to be falling bythe wayside one after the other. They already have three points on second placed Marseille and six on third place! Then one can add the 2-0 demonstration over Real Madrid… yet despite all that, not one Lyon player has anything but their feet firmly planted on the ground. “You mustn’t marginalise these wins. Nothing comes easily… and we haven’t won anything without fighting for it,” Presdient Jean-Michel Aulas knows exactly how to give value to his side’s acheivements. They come thanks to patience, hard work, thought… and talent, of course. On Tuesday night, Tiago will almost certainly reclaim his place in the midfield alongside Toulalan and Juninho. Houllier must decide between Müller and Squillaci, Réveillère and Clerc, Govou and Wiltord. But it’s an art at which Houllier is a past master. OL is still unbeaten since the start of the season and has always scored at least one goal. Even better in the Champions League where they have scored at least one goal since they lost to Porto in the quarter-finals of the 2003-04 competition. [IMG41222#R] With their in-form goal scorers Fred and Malouda and the redoubtable Juninho (67 goals for Lyon) and their entire squad, OL are capable of scoring at any given moment. Lyon appears more and more comfortable in their role as conquerors of Europe. In Romania for the third time in their history, they can, with victory, move alone at the top of the Group E standings…
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