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September 21, 2020

Europa League: Urziceni to face Liverpool, tonight

Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid…the list of teams to have visited Liverpool at this time of year recently reads like a who’s who of European football. Ronaldinho, Messi, Ibrahimovic, Raul, Robben; all have all dazzled the Anfield crowd in recent seasons – and all have left empty-handed. Great players, great games, great nights. This Thursday at Anfield, Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni will add their name to that illustrious list, but in the consolation prize of the Europa League, rather than the glitz and glamour of the Champions League, goal.com comments. Unirea, have enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom. Little more than eight years ago, they were plying their trade in the third tier of Romanian football, in front of crowds of easily less than 1,000. Their tiny Tineretului Stadium holds just 7,000 – the same as Aldershot Town’s Recreation Ground, for an English comparison. As a result, when Liverpool travel to Romania for the away leg on February 25, they will head not to Urziceni, but to Bucharest – some 60 kilometres away – after UEFA deemed the Tineretului unfit for European competition, and ordered Unirea to play their home fixtures at Steaua’s 27,500-capacity Steaua Stadium instead. Liverpool managed a 1-1 draw with Steaua in the same stadium in 2003.

As for the players, the likes of George Galamaz or Marius Onofras are hardly household names, but Unirea should be applauded for their incredible success on a shoestring budget.

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