World Cup: Romania stay relaxed

THE ONE detail that stood out when Romania limbered up at the Municipal stadium in Toulouse on Saturday evening was how relaxed they appeared to be in preparation for tonight's match against England.

Grateful for the cool breeze that coincided with their arrival on the banks of the river Garronne, the Romanians proved more agreeable than expected, raising no objection to scrutiny and interrogation.

In such circumstances the work being done is of no more value in assessment than watching a fighter shape up to his reflection of a golfer on the practice ground. Importantly, however, there was nothing to suggest that Romania's coach, Anghel Iordanescu, is the least bit concerned by the slight injuries reported last week after the 1-0 defeat of Colombia in Lyons.

Apart from the first-choice goalkeeper, Bogdan Stelea, whose confinement to the touchline was explained as a precautionary measure, all the Romanians took part in the vigorous six-aside matches that followed the usual routine of stretching exercises.

Of greater concern to Iordanescu is the rift caused between his players (nothing new in football) and the Romanian press corps by criticism of Stelea following the 2-2 draw to which Romania were held by Paraguay when preparing for the World Cup finals. "It has been very silly," one of the Romanian sports writers said. "Our supporters saw Paraguay as a little team we should have beaten easily and they took it out on Stelea for making a couple of bad mistakes. Stelea didn't help matters when he made an obscene gesture to the crowd but we [the press] are held to blame by the players for not standing by him, so now they don't speak to us."

Meanwhile, Iordanescu appears confident that his team can give England plenty of trouble in Toulouse, pointing out that Romania's colours have not been lowered by them since a 1-0 defeat at the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico. "Partly from what I've seen, partly from speaking with Dan Petrescu [the Chelsea wing back has been heavily involved in the build- up to tonight's match], I know about technical developments in English football," Iordanescu said. "But if England no longer concentrate so much on direct play, they still send in lots of centres and are very strong physically."

Apparently, it is not in Iordanescu's mind to play for the point that would put Romania within reach of qualification for the second round. "That would be a dangerous policy," he said. "We have enough technical ability and World Cup experience to win the match and although I have been told that England are very confident, they may be worried about us, especially as they gave up opportunities for Tunisia to score against them last week in Marseilles."

When watching Romania for Glenn Hoddle last week, Dave Sexton was most impressed by the composed progress they made from defence to attack. "It wasn't easy to get a read on them, because Colombia never put their game together," Sexton said when we spoke by telephone over the weekend.

"But Romania looked very relaxed with good team work and a fluid system. Colombia left Asprilla up on his own in the first half and as he didn't do much other than complain [probably the main reason why Colombia dumped him]. Romania's defenders weren't put under a great deal of pressure."

Operating a version of 4-4-2 with Gheorghe Popescu - who still mutters darkly about his time at Tottenham - as the covering central defender, Romania continue to draw inspiration from Gheorghe Hagi. At 32, and after 111 appearances for his country, Hagi remains the strolling orchestrator of Romania's offensive play, wandering in midfield, sometimes taking a rest out wide to replenish his energy.

Hagi, too, dismisses the idea that caution would be Romania's best policy against England. "We didn't play for a draw against Colombia and there is no reason why we should think differently about this match," he said. "Comparing our players with theirs, Romania need not feel inferior. If we win, then we go to the next round, so victory must be our main objective," he added. "We are playing to be first in our group and have the men to achieve it."

Nobody more, Hagi thinks, than Romania's principal attacker, Adrian Ilie, who has improved no end since joining Valencia in Spain. Ilie's soubriquet the Cobra springs from a description of style by Valencia's coach, Claudio Ranieri. "Ilie has a way of playing that causes defenders to lose concentration, then he strikes when they least expect it, just like a snake."

When this was put to Hagi after Ilie scored against Colombia, he smiled. "A big talent," he said. "Ilie has learned a lot very quickly since going to Spain and could be one of the big stars in this World Cup."

A star himself in the USA finals four years ago, Hagi relishes the prospect of testing David Seaman with free-kicks. "You have not practised them here," somebody said to him on Saturday evening, and Hagi grinned. Romania did not mind an audience, but they weren't about to show us anything that might matter.

News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there