New round, new challenge. Tomorrow, Maccabi Tel Aviv will take on Pandurii at the Stadionul Municipal at 20:00 on Channel 20 as the Yellow & Blue look to advance to the Playoff Round of the Europa League. After we took an in depth look at Gorica as well as before and after Kairat, now it’s time to get ready for the next battle that awaits.

Who are you Pandurii?

The relatively young club was founded in 1962 and has never won their domestic league championship. Last season “The Miners” finished in 3rd place which punched their ticket straight to the third round of Europa League qualifying. However, there is a very distinct difference between the 2015/16 model and the club that the Yellow & Blue will face tomorrow.
Due to issues surrounding their lead sponsor, Pandurri lost their main source of income which forced the club to ask the players to take a 25% pay cut. The request fell on deaf ears and ten players left Pandurii including their coach Edward Iordănescu, son of Anghel Iordănescu, the former Romania National Team Coach.

2016/17 Season:

Pandurii began their domestic campaign this past week and defeated Craiova at the same stadium that the Yellow & Blue will play the Romanian outfit. The final score was 2:1 for Pandurii but that doesn’t tell the complete story of a contest that saw a dramatic 89th minute goal by the hosts following an opening goal that was scored due to a mistake by the visiting side’s defense.

Craiova, which isn’t one of the leading teams in the Romanian league controlled the flow of the match handling the ball 58% of the time as well as dominating the game in a number of parameters. For example, Pandurii made 391 passes with 71% finding its destination, 100 less than the visitors. Craiova took 15 shots on goal compared to only three by Pandurii, however the hosts were able to score on a couple of their chances that decided the matchup.

Head Coach Petre Grigoraș plays a 4-4-1-1 formation but for most of the game he played a 4-3-3 with last season’s Romanian league goal scoring king Ioan Hora playing as the lone striker.

Dance the Hora:

As mentioned before, many players left Pandurii over the summer but arguably their best player stayed with the club. The 27-year old 1.81 meter with a fine record from last season scored 19 goals during the prior campaign.
Hora played as a striker 70% of the time during the 2015/16 season and the balance evenly on the right and left wings. He was also brilliant in exploiting situations in the key area converting 40% of his opportunities which is something that can’t always be seen in the stat pages but certainly can be seen on the pitch.

Pay attention to:

  • Claudiu Voiculeț – Pandurii’s #8 plays right behind the striker
  • Lucian Sânmărtean – He won’t play in the first leg but will be one to pay attention to the second leg as he is one of the most technical players in Romania today.