CFR Cluj manager Dan Petrescu has been going on the offensive to the Romanian press after knocking Celtic out on Tuesday night.
The tactician has been praising his stars and his record in Europe. Yet, whilst doing so, he also admitted that every team he’s knocked out has been “better” than his own. Cluj have seen off Astana, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and now the Hoops.
Celtic managed to let the advantage slip on three occasions on Tuesday night. The Romanians have now set themselves up for a Champions League playoff tie against Slavia Prague.
But speaking to Digisport after knocking the Hoops out, Petrescu defended his record and stated that Celtic are “better” than Cluj.
“We are all happy and proud. I have represented Romania honestly. I’m pleased I’ve closed the mouths of those who said I didn’t win championships on merit. We have a fantastic team and we are the best in Romania.
“I was upset that my value was being questioned. It was said that I have nothing to show in Romania. We’ve eliminated three teams better than us. Think about how many goals we scored in the last matches.
“I told them that if we defend, we have no chance. I told them we had to press up, otherwise we had no chance.”
Petrescu may not be meaning what we think – but do we have better players?
Petrescu may mean a number of things here. He could just be referring to the UEFA rankings. He may also just be talking about losing to three clubs with bigger stature than his own. But it is also possible that he’s comparing the players in both squads.
And it’s difficult to argue that we did have the better players over the two legs. We have players with plenty of quality and international experience. That’s not something Cluj can boast.
But the fact is that, over the course of the two legs, we made more individual mistakes than our rivals. They turned up on the big occasion and played with a mental strength that we were unable to match.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes to overcome better players. They had belief and an incredible spirit to their side at Celtic Park. They were happy to put everything on the line to subsequently achieve victory. Celtic, meanwhile, were far too lackadaisical during key moments in the tie.
Petrescu deserves praise for how he played Celtic with his comments throughout the tie too. But at the same time, he clearly has big respect for Celtic and Parkhead. And, as we close the curtain on what was a clash to forget, many Hoops supporters will be classy enough to offer their congratulations to the former Unirea boss.