Steaua Bucharest faces Middlesbrough in the first leg of the UEFA Cup semifinals in Bucharest on Thursday evening, in a match that already broke several records. It is the fourth consecutive match that Steaua plays with all tickets sold despite high prices.
Steaua owner Gigi Becali earned over 700,000 euro from ticket sales alone and the financial network of the whole event exceeded 2 million euro in television and radio rights and others. In comparison, the national football team will only receive 350,000 euro for the three matches it will play in the United States next month.
Bonus pays promised to Steaua players are also unprecedented as Radoi&Co. will receive 100,000 euro each if they make their way to the UEFA Cup finals in Eindhoven on May 10. But a similar sum was promised to them last year but was not honored after they beat Valencia.
Steaua announced one change in the first 11 as striker Daniel Oprita will be among them instead of Andrei Cristea, who’s been suffering of knee sore. But everybody looked cool over the last several days as Middlesbrough came to Bucharest after an infernal period in the English championship, where it played on Saturday and Monday.
Following those two matches, coach McLaren lost two of his main 11 – Southgate and Viduka.
Steaua is favored at betting houses in Bucharest with a 2.20, against 2.90 for Boro. And British commentators have also said Steaua has most chances to win this first leg, which will be refereed by Alain Hamer of Luxembourg.
2000 English supporters will face tens of thousands of Romanian Steaua fans in Bucharest tonight, so it’s easy to understand that the Bucharest authorities and the police, who ordered several thousand troops to keep order around the Lia Manoliu stadium where the match will take place tonight.