Steaua vs Vardar preview

July 15, 2013
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Steaua vs PetrolulRomanian giants Steaua will be aiming to create a decent advantage in the first leg of their clash against Vardar, with the FYR Macedonia champions hoping to keep the tie alive before the return leg in Skopje.

Steaua Bucuresti are by far the most famous club in Romania, having won no less than 24 league titles while also lifting the European Champions Cup trophy in 1986.

While showing a lot of promise in Europe over the years, the Army Men experienced all sorts of problems on domestic stage, having gone seven years without the league title.

Steaua ended the barren run in style, having won the league last term with a 16-point cushion at the top of the standings.

The main objective now is to reach the Champions League group stages, with FYR Macedonia champions Vardar their first obstacle.

However, with the team looking pretty impressive in pre-season and recording a 3-0 win over Petrolul to win the Romanian Super Cup, it is hardly surprising they are 1.14 (1/7) favourites with Betfair to start their campaign with a win.

While staying without important attackers Raul Rusescu and Adi, the Army Men have signed Federico Piovaccari from Sampdoria, while also adding few more domestic players.

With no fresh injuries to report, boss Laurentiu Reghecampf is unlikely to make major changes to the side that started the Super Cup match, although Niculae Stanciu could start.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu – Georgievski, Szukala, Chiriches, Lavtolevici – Bourceanu, Pintilii – Ad. Popa, Stanciu, Tanase – Nikolic.

FK Vardar have been trying to return to old glory days over the years, but they haven’t had a lot of success of late.

While they managed to end a long trophy drought by winning the league title in 2012 and 2013, the team have largely struggled in Europe.

Vardar were indeed close to reaching Champions League group stages, when they famously eliminated CSKA Moscow before recording a 5-4 aggregate defeat to Sparta Praha, but they fell at the first hurdle last term, losing to BATE Borisov.

The team go into the new season severely weakened, with key players Ilievski, Randjelovic and Stjepanovic having left the club, so they clearly face a difficult task against very good Steaua.

New signing Stevan Reljic looks likely to start, but Zarko Simjanovski and Miroslav Jovanovski will not be in contention for starting places.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Pavlovic – Reljic, Bojovic, Tanevski, Cikarski – Petrov, Temelkov, Petrovic – Gimenez, Kostovski, Stojkov.

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