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Celtic's UEFA Europa League Group E Opponents - CFR Cluj

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THE 2018/19 UEFA Europa League delivered a classic final in the all-London clash between Chelsea and Arsenal, and some of the continent’s biggest names are lining up again to be in there for this season’s final in Gdansk’s eye-catching Stadion Energa.

Arsenal are in there once more for the 2019/20 tournament along with other giants of the European game such as Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven - plus there are also old European final foes for Celtic in the shape of both Porto and Feyenoord.

The final date of May 27, 2020 may seem a long way away, but so was May 21, 2003 when Celtic started on the Road to Seville and the UEFA Cup final.

The Hoops now embark on another UEFA Europa League journey in their Group E games against Italian giants, Lazio, French Cup holders, Stade Rennais and Romanian champions, CFR Cluj.

You can find all the ticket info for Celtic’s Group E games under the lights of Paradise HERE, and this week’s Celtic View gives the lowdown on each of the Hoops’ Euro opponents from the games ahead.

You can also check out the story of our Group E challengers right here – this time it’s CFR Cluj.

STADIUM

Since 1973, CFR Cluj have played at the Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium, which originally had a capacity of around 10,000. It was opened with a game between Cluj and the Cuban national team. It was only after Cluj began qualifying for European football that work began to expand the stadium, with the capacity increased to 23,500. As Cluj celebrated their centenary in 2007, they marked the renovation work with a pre-season friendly in July against Benfica, a match that finished 2-2. The following year, in September 2008, the Romanian national side played their first game at the stadium, a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, which the visitors won 3-0.

HONOURS

CFR Cluj’s trophy successes have all come in the past 11 years, with five league titles, four Romanian Cups and two Romanian Super Cups to their name. Season 2007/08 was a momentous one for the club as they won the league for the first time in their history while, for good measure, they completed the double with victory over Unirea Urziceni in the final. It was the first of three consecutive cup triumphs for the club. In terms of league success, Cluj will be hoping to make it three-in-a-row this season, having won the title for the past two seasons. In 2018, they pipped FCSB to the title by a point following the championship round, where the top six teams in the league play each other twice. Last season, the gap between the same two sides was two points, with Cluj still coming out on top.

EUROPE

Cluj have managed to reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League on three previous occasions, while they managed to progress to the last 32 of the Europa League in season 2012/13. Cluj’s reward for winning the Romanian league in 2008 was automatic qualification to the group stages of the UCL, and they found themselves in a group alongside Roma, Chelsea and Bordeaux, finishing bottom after six matches. In 2010/11, they again finished bottom of a group that contained FC Basel, Roma and Bayern Munich. However, in season 2012/13, they finished third in their group, behind Manchester United and Galatasaray, but ahead of Portuguese side, Braga. It meant Cluj went into the last 32 of the Europa League, losing 5-0 on aggregate to Inter Milan. Their most recent European participation was in 2014/15. After beating Slovakian side, Jagodina, in the second qualifying round, they were knocked out at the next stage by Dinamo Minsk of Belarus, losing 3-0 on aggregate.

PLAYERS

Mario Rondon joined Cluj in May this year, and the Venezuelan internationalist has netted twice in his new club’s European campaign – a goal in Israel against Maccabi Tel Aviv and one against Celtic in the recent away game against the Romanian side. Another dangerous attacker for the Romanian side is Billel Omrani, with the French striker showing good pace and movement against the Hoops. Defensively, Brazilian Paulo Vinicius and Romanian Andrei Burca anchor the central defence, with Lithuanian goalkeeper, Giedrius Arlauskis, behind them. As well as Rondon and Omrani, who scored twice against Celtic in the recent UEFA Champions League qualifier in Glasgow, Ciprian Deac and George Tucudean also found the net against the Hoops.

THIS SEASON

Cluj faced FC Vitorul Constanta in the season’s curtain raiser – the Romanian Super Cup – at the start of July, with Vitorul lifting the trophy courtesy of a 1-0 win. Before playing Celtic in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, Cluj had an opening day draw at home to CSMS Iasi, and beat Academica Clinceni (4-1), Dinamo Bucharest (1-0) and Chindia Targoviste (4-1), before defeating Hermannstadt 3-0 between the Hoops games. Since then, however, Cluj have only won one game, Botosani (4-1), while drawing 1-1 with Sepsi Sfantu and losing 3-2 to Astra Giurgiu on Saturday. To reach the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and a meeting with Celtic, Cluj saw off Kazakhstan side, Astana, beating then 4-1 on aggregate, and then beat Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel 3-2 on aggregate. However, at the next stage, Cluj lost both games 1-0 to Slavia Prague.

CFR CLUJ FACTFILE

Formed: 1907

Stadium: Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium

Capacity: 23,500

Manager: Dan Petrescu

League titles: 5

National Cup: 4

Super Cup: 4

THE GAMES

Matchday two, Thursday, October 3

Celtic v CFR Cluj, kick-off 8pm

Matchday six, Thursday, December 12

CFR Cluj v Celtic, kick-off 5.55pm

All your ticket info HERE

Check out the other lowdowns on our UEFA Europa League Group E opponents right here on celticfc.net




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