As Romania look ahead to the tournament in Austria and Switzerland and particularly their match with World Champions Italy, their fans must cast their minds back 25 years for any encouragement. On April 16, 1983, Romania defeated Italy for the first and only time in a competitive match in a qualifying game for the 1984 European Championship. Then, as now, Italy were the World Cup holders but Romania, who had already drawn in Florence, earned a 1-0 victory in Bucharest courtesy of a Laszlo Bölöni goal and went on to reach the finals in France. More recent evidence is less positive: Italy won 2-0 in the Euro 2000 quarter-finals and 3-0 and 2-0 in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. They also beat Romania 1-0 in a friendly in 2003.
Romania qualified for the finals as Group G winners ahead of the Netherlands, after recording nine victories and just one defeat in 12 matches. A 0-0 draw in Holland in their fourth game sparked a run of six straight wins, with Dorin Goian scoring the only goal in the return against the Dutch in Constanta to leave Romania on the brink of the finals. They took the final step by winning 2-0 in Luxembourg thanks to goals from Florentin Petre and Ciprian Marica. Although PiÅ£urcÄƒ’s side let their unbeaten record slip in the next game, losing 1-0 in Bulgaria, they finished the campaign with a 6-1 victory over nine-man Albania to confirm their place as group winners.
Although Romania qualified for the 1984 and 1996 European Championship finals, they failed to win a match. Their first victory in the finals actually came in their ninth match, when they defeated England 3-2 in the Euro 2000 finals – a result that won them a place in the knockout stages of the competition.
Romania have appeared in all 13 European Championship qualifying competitions, playing 105 matches. In that time, they have won 52, drawn 27 and lost 26 with 191 goals scored and 104 conceded. Romania will be relying on the experience of Contra and the goalscoring prowess of Mutu if they are to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.
Romania Euro 2008 Squad
Head coach: Victor PiÅ£urcÄƒ
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