Partizan vs Steaua Bucharest by Rostick
Partizan was generally the better team in Bucharest, which was somewhat expected given Steaua’s poor form. Partizan is not a great team by any means, but they have that Serbian fighting spirit along with a couple of really talented players. They started the season with 4 consecutive wins to nil (including 3-0 aggregate over Dila Gori in UCL), drew with Steaua and finally lost this weekend in the domestic league – but they rested most of their regular starters.
Steaua clearly has the weakest squad in the last 4 years, but even so they are expected to win the title again in Romania. They have been generally poor this season, only managing to show glimpses of brilliance for short 5-10 minute stretches in various games. They were very close to get knocked out by Trencin in the last round and were very lucky to progress (2-0 away, 2-3 home). However, a highlight for Steaua this season has been their play on the road – they won all 3 road games, while at home they have 3 draws and 2 losses in 5 matches. The Romanians are on the back of a hard fought 1-0 win at Botosani, despite resting 4-5 starters.
Team news & lineups:
Partizan is healthy and will also get back regular striker Bojinov, who was injured in the first minutes in Romania. Steaua continues to miss key man Stanciu, while captain Varela is doubtful, but he should play.
Partizan Belgrade: Ž. Živković – Vulićević, Balažic, Fabricio, Petrović – Jevtović – Brašanac, Babović – Oumarou, Bojinov, A. Živković
Steaua Bucureşti: Cojocaru – Alcénat, Papp, Varela, Guilherme – Muniru, Breeveld – Popa, Hamroun, Chipciu – Tadé
This is an evenly matched clash and the 1-1 result in the first leg is not such a great one for Partizan. Steaua had no fans in the stands and the Romanians played horrible at home this season. It looked like a match in which Partizan played a good game for them, while Steaua played poorly and still managed to get a draw and put pressure on the visitors in the few moments they played well. Steaua can play better, Partizan I`m not so sure.
It`s hard to separate these two teams – Steaua is not in great form and struggles after losing some key players, Partizan is not to good either and showed weakness and naivety at times in Bucharest. Steaua though has a crucial advantage which could prove to be the difference maker in such an important match – experience. The Romanian side is much more seasoned in European competitions and this is why I believe that Partizan’s biggest advantage, their crazy fans, could actually prove to be an Achilles heel for them.
Steaua played on many packed stadiums in front of insane fans in Europe, they know how to get the job done in these conditions, while Partizan’s youth, lack of experience and tendency to have blackout moments could make them crumble under pressure. All in all qualification will be a coin toss after the first leg result, so the value is on Steaua. I tipped Partizan to win or draw in the first leg, but this time around my tip is Steaua to qualify. Prediction: Partizan Belgrade – Steaua Bucharest 1-1 (1-2 extra time).
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|Steaua to qualify||Bet365||2.63||5||4-2 LOST (-5 units)|