Sunday, 30 July 2017 03:02

FCSB – CSU Craiova

FCSB will host CSU Craiova at National Arena in the third round of the Romanian Liga 1.

FCSB is on the back of a 2-2 home draw against Plzen in the Champions League qualifiers, yet another match in which FCSB failed to impress in the start of this season. The team has two narrow wins against poor opposition in Liga 1 and failed to dominate their home game against Plzen. The rather poor form of FCSB shouldn`t exactly be a surprise – despite having the best squad in Romania, they seem weaker than last season, particularly due to hiring a ‘puppet’ manager, chosen exclusively in order to obey the owner`s orders.

CSU Craiova made its European debut a few days ago against AC Milan, playing pretty good football in a 0-1 home loss to the Italian giants (who played with a mix of starters and reserves / youngsters). In the league CSU Craiova has 4 points in 6 matches under new manager Devis Mangia (ex – Italy U21) but, like FCSB, they didn`t meet quality opponents so far.

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Team news & lineups:

FCSB has to make a number of changes ahead of this clash. Their best player this season, Budescu, is injured. What`s more, the owner said that he wants three players out of the team (Larie, Achim, Enache), and the coach is expected to act in confirmity with that. As such, FCSB will probably have only one center back in the team for this game and will need to improvise.

As for CSU Craiova, they have a single injury worry, Spahija, who is doubtful, but expected to play.

FC FCSB: Nita – Pleasca, Balasa, Momcilovic, Morais – Pintilie, Popescu – Man, Teixeira, De Amorim – Alibec

CSU Craiova: Calancea – Dimitrov, Spahija, Kelic, Briceag – Zlatinski – Gustavo, Mitrita, Rossi, Bancu – Baluta

Although FCSB is a slightly better team overall than CSU Craiova, and has a better squad, the visitors are not that far off and are surely set to be a Top 5 team at the end of the season – just like last year.

The two teams played similar football so far this season, but the visitors will come into this match with more confidence, feeling they are going in a good direction – as opposed to FCSB, who seems to be going backwards and already has unrest in the locker room. As such, rating FCSB as a 1.50 favorite seems a bit exaggerated. Something like 1.75 would be closer to reality, and even then betting on FCSB wouldn`t look like a great choice.

One thing that works in FCSB’s favor is that they have 8 wins and 1 draw in 9 direct meetings with CSU Craiova. Last season the teams met 4 times, with FCSB winning each time (2-1, 2-1, 1-0, 3-0). However, this time the difference between the two teams seems lower, and CSU Craiova might be better than ever under new manager Mangia.

Also, FCSB has 2 extra days of rest after both teams played European football midweek. FCSB met Plzen at home Tuesday, while CSU Craiova met AC Milan at home Thursday. Having spent a lot of energy against AC Milan, having 2 less days of rest and having to travel for this game in Bucharest, Craiova has a clear disadvantage.

However, the flipside is that FCSB has a huge match just 3 days later in the Czech Republic on Wednesday and that is clearly their main focus right now, with potential Champions League money being the No.1 priority for the club.

It`s also worth noting that the pitch is expected to be in very poor condition. It was already bad before being played on two times in the last 6 days, so on paper that should be an advantage for the underdog (Craiova).

FCSB has been lucky to win in each of the first two rounds, claiming narrow victories (one in injury time) against weaker teams than Craiova. Now, without their best player, with (probably) a single center back available and with a huge match vs. Plzen in sight, FCSB might finally lose points against a very capable opponent. If they do manage to snatch a win, it will most likely be another hard fought 1 goal victory.

My tip is CSU Craiova to cover the 1 goal asian handicap. Both teams to score could also be a good choice considering FCSB’s problems at the back, but I reckon the asian handicap is a safer and more logical bet. Prediction: FCSB – CSU Craiova 1-1.

Pick: CSU Craiova (+1 Asian Handicap)
Odds: 1.83 @ 10Bet
Stake: 8
Possible profit: 6.64
Event date: 30 July