Tonight (October 16 ) is the biggest challenge yet for Romania’s footballers in their bid to reach the Brazil 2014 World Cup Finals. After their fantastic unbeaten run so far in Group D, Romania face the mighty Netherlands, also winners of their first three matches.
On paper it should be a fairly easy Dutch victory; sixth place in the FIFA rankings and runners up to Spain at the last World Cup in South Africa. The Netherlands also have by far the better of previous encounters, but it’s by no means a foregone conclusion, with Romania riding a wave of victories and playing on home turf.
Victor Piturca’s Romania are yet to concede a goal in the competition, scoring seven goals and recording two away wins so far. It’s just the sort of tie to make the Dutch team nervous – playing away from home against in-form underdogs Romania – and all the pressure will be on the Netherlands, where anything other than a convincing win would be considered a disaster.
A victory for Romania would give them a shot at winning Group D and automatically qualifying, while even a loss would still give them a good chance of finishing as group runners up and going through to the play offs for the World Cup.
After his team’s hard fought 1 – 0 win over Turkey on Friday, Romania’s coach Victor Piturca said his team were “exhausted” and hinted that there might be changes to the Romanian line up. “I plan to make at least two or three changes because the Netherlands are very strong physically,” said Piturca.
The Dutch on the other hand come into the match after an easy victory over Andorra, star striker Robin Van Persie was rested for the game, but he’ll be back tonight providing a clear and present danger to Romanian goalie Ciprian Tatarusanu’s competition clean sheet.
The match kicks off at 21:00 local time at the National Arena and will be shown on Antena 1. The Bucharest metro will have a special extended program for the match, with metros running until 24:00. Betting odds are currently around 7/2 for a Romanian win, 5/2 for a draw and 4/5 for a Dutch victory.
Liam Lever, email@example.com
(photo source: Fifa.com)