Never heard of Cluj? Roma certainly have now
Anyone underestimating Champions League debutants CFR Cluj will now have to think again after the Romanians beat AS Roma 2-1 away in their Group A opener.
Having a smaller club make an impact is great for the competition after years of domination by the big sides. BATE Borisov of Belarus and Denmark’s Aalborg are two other little-known teams in this season’s group stages and they can only be spurred on by Cluj’s heroics in Rome.
Can any of these three sides make it through to the knockout stages? If Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco made the final some years back then why can’t an even smaller side reach the last 16?
Zenit St Petersburg, once unheard of in European circles, are UEFA Cup and Super Cup champions remember.
Roma will struggle to beat Cluj away given their stuttering form and no side, not even Real Madrid, will fancy the trip to Belarus.
I’d love to think the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting smaller. But it might just be a one-off. Cluj host rampaging Chelsea next.
PHOTO: CFR Cluj’s Juan Culio (C) celebrates with his team mates Yssouf Kone (L) and Sebastian Dubarbier after scoring against AS Roma during their Champions League Group A soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Rome September 16, 2008. REUTERS/Tony Gentile