RESPECT FOR BUCHAREST
Paul Stalteri feels a glance at Dinamo Bucharest's form tells us all we need to know about the Romanians before Thursday night's UEFA Cup clash at the Lane.
Paul Stalteri feels a glance at Dinamo Bucharest's form tells us all we need to know about the Romanians before Thursday night's UEFA Cup clash at the Lane.We take on the runway Romania Liga 1 leaders in our final group match knowing a win or draw will secure top spot in the group. However, Dinamo can overtake us if they come out on top.
Dinamo arrive at the Lane with home wins over Besiktas and Bayer Leverkusen and a draw at Club Brugge.
Their domestic form is near-perfect though with 17 wins, one draw and just one defeat in 19 matches. They are currently 13 points clear of second-placed Steaua Bucharest, who played in the Champions League this term.
Full-back Paul returned from a six-week injury lay-off as a substitute aagainst Charlton on Saturday and is hoping to add to the European experience he gained in his time at Werder Bremen with his first UEFA Cup appearance for us on Thursday night.
"I haven't played against Dinamo Bucharest before but they've started the group well, come here with seven points and we have to respect them," said Paul. "When a team has done well in a league format in Europe and is doing well domestically, you know you're in for a tough test.
"They will all be good footballers, no matter what country they are from and there is no way we can go into it thinking it will be an easy game, that would be a big mistake. They will be able to keep the ball and we will have to be on our game to win it."
The identity of the Champions League teams finishing third in their groups and coming into the UEFA Cup was known last week upon the conclusion of the group stages. Of the eight teams, a couple really caught the eye - 2005 winners CSKA Moscow and a certain Werder Bremen, Paul's former team.
"They gave Barcelona and Chelsea a great run in the Champions League and they've been in the Champions League for the last three seasons and done well," added Paul, who was part of that Champions League experience in 2004-05. "It would have taken something special to have come through their group but they are flying in the league and they would be a tough challenge for anyone."
Look out for more from Paul in Thursday night's official matchday programme...