The anticipation for Euro 2016 grows greater each day as each qualified nation develops the motivation to go far in this prestigious tournament.
Romania are one of the 24 teams in the 2016 edition of Europe’s top international football competition. The Eastern European country has been drawn with Albania, Switzerland and the host nation France, so as a clear underdog in the group stage it will be a massive achievement for the team should they progress.
Despite their status as underdogs, Romania has shown some strong form in the qualifying stages. Anghel Iordănescu’s men only conceded twice in their qualifying matches and managed to finish second behind Northern Ireland. Such a defensive record should be applauded and could be an omen for promising results in the competition. This is not to say that the Romanians are a slick outfit overall though, while their defence has been great it has led to a number of 0-0 draws.
Two defining moments in their road to qualification was a 1-0 win over Greece and the 2-0 win over Northern Ireland. Both of these matches showed the resilience and defensive strength of this Romania side, as they held out Greece despite going down to 10 men and managed to beat the group winners Northern Ireland with a comprehensive score line. It has been a promising start to their Euro journey, but the biggest test will be at the tournament itself.
The Tricolorii have had a mixed success in international tournaments, but they have a history of pulling off some brilliant underdog victories. Interestingly, Romania was one of the four European teams that took part in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, but since then they have had limited time in the spotlight. They have only qualified for the World Cup six times after 1930 and have had rather quiet performances, with the exception of the 1994 tournament. In that year, Romania reached the quarter-finals by knocking out one of the favourites in Argentina,but were knocked out by Sweden.
They have qualified for the Euros seven times, but only progressed as far as the quarter-finals in 2000 where the side was defeated by Italy. It has been a tough time even qualifying for prestigious tournaments for Romania, but they have had the ability in the past to pull off unlikely victories.
If Romania are to have any success in Euro 2016 it will be a result of their excellent defence. Head coach Anghel Iordanescu has set up his side with a clear defensive mindset as they conceded only two goals in the entire qualifying phase. Romania have a number of strong defenders at their disposal and they make use of this as Iordanescu often opts to play with a sole striker up front to focus on building the defensive area of the pitch. It is a strategy that has served them well so far and one that gives them a good basis for the daunting task of overcoming France and Switzerland in their group. Romania are not afraid to prioritise clean sheets, which is a tool that could become extremely useful should they come up against a tough opponent in a knockout round.
Romania, however, have presented some worrying signs in terms of attack. Their strategy of playing one up front works with keeping clean sheets, but is detrimental to their goal scoring ability as seen by the number of goalless draws they experienced in the qualifying stage. Perhaps it is a lack of talented strikers, or just the strategy that Iordanescu wants to employ but simply keeping the opponents out will not be enough in the group stages of the Euro. Romania need a result against France and Switzerland if they have any hopes of qualifying, but even against Albania they need to ensure that they can secure three points with efficient goal scoring. The Tricolorii have shown that they have the ability to hit the target, but they need to pose a more consistent threat if they want to reach the knockout stages.
Predicted finish – Group stage
Looking back at a strong qualifying stage it is not unreasonable to say that Romania have the capability to make decent progress at the Euros this year. They have a knowledgeable manager and good group of players that have a strong defensive record. The Romanians have been drawn into a reasonable group as well, while France may be too strong to defeat, it is not out of the question that three points could be snatched from Switzerland and Albania. They need nothing less than full reward against Albania and Switzerland if they hope to progress to the next round, but the opposition may prove too strong and Romania will most likely finish third in their group.