Romania will look to build on their winning start to the European Championship Qualification – Group F campaign in tonight’s “Danube Derby,” against Hungary in Bucharest.
In the first round of matches, Romania beat Greece 1-0 on the road; the same team they had lost to in last year’s World Cup Qualification Play-offs. In contrast, Hungary lost its opening round match against a weak Northern Ireland team, at home.
The two sides were in the same World Cup Qualification group, in which Romania beat Hungary 3-0 at home, and drew 2-2 away. Romania, which is W5 D5 L2 all-time against Hungary, has not lost to its opponent in their last eight H2H matches. Although Hungary has improved in recent years – finishing third in the most recent WC and EC qualifications – they have not qualified for a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Romania, as mentioned before, just missed out on this summer’s WC by losing to Greece in the playoffs. Romania last qualified for the European Championship in 2008.
The atmosphere in Bucharest will be intense tonight, fueled by the troubled historic past between the two nations. Romanian fans have been raving about the inclusion of 34-year-old Steaua Bucharest midfielder Lucian Sanmartean, who is considered by many as the best Romanian footballer since Gheorghe Hagi. Sanmartean doesn’t have many international caps to his name because of his so-called “attitude,” in the past – but he is capable of having a big influence on the outcome of the match.
Pick: After beating Greece on the road on Matchday 1, Romania is the odds-on favorite to finish first in the group. Their next match, after tonight, is in Finland -where first place in the group could potentially be on the line – so grabbing all three points against Hungary is crucial. Hungary doesn’t have much quality, as they only have a couple of players that play in the top leagues in Europe. Romania is the better team, and will be flying high with confidence after beating Greece. I’ll take the home team Romania to win at -132 (5Dimes).
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