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Thursday 8th November 2012
Womens Champions League Round of 16
Olimpia UT Cluj-Napoca 0-3 ASD Torres Calcio (agg 1-7)
(Official UEFA) Attendance : 1,000

Thursday was supposed to be "a day of rest" free from football but thanks to my mate having a peep on the Internet, he found match for us to attend. A women's Champions League game.

There are 2 major men's football teams in Cluj, CFR are one and the other are Universitatea Cluj. Universitatea play at the Cluj Arena, built on the site of their old Ion Moina Stadium, but with them not having a game until Monday, this gave us a good opportunity to see a game at this ground.
Romanian Champions Olimpia Universitatea Technica Cluj-Napoca are the women's team who play at Cluj Arena and they were taking on ASD Torres Calcio Femminile, the Italian Champions, in a Round of 16 second leg tie. The Romanians found themselves 1-4 down after last weeks game in Sardinia.

Admittedly women's football is not normally on my radar but after watching the summer Olympics I thought I'd give it a go. I have to confess I rather enjoyed what I seen. The pace and power is obviously not there but there was plenty of technical skills to admire. I was particularly impressed with the Torres number 8, Swiss international Sandy Maendly, who controlled the game from the centre of midfield with an exquisite range of passing.

The match was a comfortable win for the Italians as they scored 3 goals without reply to register a 7-1 aggregate win. Sandy Iannella (9) gave Torres an interval lead before a Patrizia Panico brace (62 & 66) sealed the victory. If the Italians had had their shooting boots on, then the margin would have been greater. Olimpia never gave in and kept going until the end but, sadly for them, it wasn't to be.

A splendid advert for Women's football and well worth the £1 entrance fee.

CFR 1907 CLUJ-NAPOCA (Stadion Dr. Constantin Rădulescu)

The next leg of the tour took us East to Romania and the city of Cluj-Napoca. Cluj is in the heart of Transylvania and is considered the unofficial capital. It was the lure of a Champions league game that brought us here as CFR Cluj were taking on Galatasaray in a group stage game.

CFR 1907 Cluj-Napoca are a recent phenomenon in terms of success, having been languishing in the Romanian lower leagues until 2002 when the club received a new sponsor, Árpád Pászkány.

They were in the top flight by 2004 and in European competition (Intertoto Cup)  by 2005. They won the Romanian title for the first time in their history in 2008, thus entering the Champions League for the first time and they have subsequently won the league twice more in 2010 and 2012.

Despite this modern day success, the clubs name reflects its past as the CFR stands for Căile Ferate Române, which is the Romanian state railway, the club being founded as part of the railway sports club back in 1907.

CFR's ground is built into a hill high above Cluj and is named the Stadion Dr. Constantin Rădulescu after a former coach. The ground is in the middle of residential area and is three sided. It is unlikely they would be able to build on the fourth side of the ground as it is right up against a street full of houses.

It was at the ground where our Euro tour hit it's first snag. A 'gentle' stroll up to the ticket booths and a note on the window revealed that the match was sold out. A steward, in broken English, explained that due to Manchester United being in Cluj's group, there was a heavy demand for tickets so the club quite cannily sold the Champions League tickets as a package of all 3 games.

At the ticket office though there were lots of touts milling around and after a bit of negotiation we managed to get a ticket for around £20 each. The tout originally wanted £60!!

The ticket was behind the goal and in with the Cluj Ultra's. This certainly made for an interesting experience. At one stage my mate even had one of the flags in his hand and then both of us were basically told to 'get cheering the team' Don't think ignoring this request was an option!!!!

Cluj are now managed by former Hearts boss Paulo Sergio but he could could not prevent Cluj sinking to defeat. It was a pretty average game between to pretty average sides but the Turkish side were always in control. The big difference was Galatasaray had Burak Yilmaz up front and he bagged himself a hat-trick (18, 61 and 74). Modou Sogou (54) did equalise for the home but the optimisim they could go on to win was short lived.

The local time is 2 hours ahead of GMT so it was after 11.30pm when I left the ground and well after midnight before hitting an all-night bar to discuss the evenings events!

Wednesday 7th November 2012
Champions League Group Stage
CFR Cluj-Napoca 1-3 Galatasaray
Attendance: 16,232

PARIS ST GERMAIN (Parc de Princes)

PSG did not issue :(
Tuesday morning was a return back to the French capital for a Champions League group stage game between Paris St Germain and Dinamo Zagreb. There were reports of trouble pre-match as fans clashed but only arriving in Paris at around 2pm, we never saw any.

For such a famous name in football, PSG has a relatively short history having only been formed as recently as 1970, but they have crammed a lot into such a short space of time! League champions twice, runners up 7 times, French cup winners 8 times and a UEFA cup thrown in for good measure.

After a few seasons in the doldrums, the club was bought by the "Qatar Investment Authority" in 2011 and, like Manchester City in England, the super rich owners are throwing money around in order to build/buy success. ex-Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti was appointed coach in December 2011 and Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was 2012's marquee signing.

The iconic Parc de Princes was packed with over 40,000 fans tonight and they were treated to a brilliant performance, especially as it came on the back of a home loss to St Etienne. Zagreb had no answer as PSG ran out 4-0 winners. Goals from ex-Chelsea player Alex (16), Blase Matuidi (61), Jeremy Menez (65) and Guillaume Hoarau (80) put PSG one win away from the group stages.

Although he never scored Ibrahimovic was involved in all four goals and his all round play was superb. This was the first time i'd ever seen the guy play 'in the flesh' and was very impressed with his game. You pays yer money....

Tuesday 6th November 2012
Champions League Group Stage
Paris St Germain 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Attendance: 41,060