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

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