Thursday, 19 August 2010

Timişoara preview

European football! The preserve of the elite, the playground of the pretentious ('tim-i-shar-er', thanks for asking), where clubs can really touch the stars. And for the first time for over thirty years we're there on merit. I'm excited about our Europa League campaign; and not just because it's possibly our best chance at breaking the trophy drought this summer.

And where better to start than Timişoara? Apparently they finished fifth in Romanian league last year. Here's their Wikipedia article. I don't have anything more to add, except that the early stages of the Europa League is the only place you still get those mists of exoticism which used to enhance the experience at the top end of the major European competitions. This is something which is missed today, and it is good to experience it in some form.

That said, our side is likely to be just as shrouded by the mists of exoticism as theirs. I tend to spend a paragraph of previews running through what I imagine the team will be. But tonight I have no idea. This comes from not really knowing Mancini's mind (particularly the question of what he does differently in Europe), not knowing the new players, not knowing what Mancini makes of the new players and so forth. All we do know is that Joe Hart will start, which is absolutely right. Rotating 'keepers is a bad idea which keeps no-one happy.

In terms of the game itself, I'm sure it will be awkward, slow, fairly cagey. As ever in these ties, even a score draw would be a success. Knowing how to play in Europe is important but if we can recreate what we did in the second half at White Hart Lane we'll be fine. There is a way to play in Europe and for all the criticism of Mancini and his cautious style, we're built for it. I'm predicting a heroic 1-0 win.

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