CFR Cluj boss Dan Petrescu has stated that three of his star men will be missing next Thursday’s meeting with Celtic.
Kevin Boli, Luis Aurelio, and Mario Rondon are all set to sit out the must-win match for Cluj. Celtic, meanwhile, are only playing for pride after confirming their spot as Group E winners.
Celtic have some knocks and bruises of their own heading into the game. However, Neil Lennon has the luxury of not having to risk anyone given not much is at stake for his team.
The same can’t be said of Petrescu, however. Cluj need just a point to qualify, but he’s touched on the players who he believes will definitely miss out next week’s clash in Romania. Speaking to Mediafax, Petrescu said the following:
“Diseases – that’s the biggest loss. I lost Boli and I don’t think he’ll play until the end of the season. We have Boli, Aurelio, and Rondon who can’t play against Celtic.”
Cluj struggling for numbers ahead of Celtic visit
These are big losses for Cluj heading into next week.
Starting with Boli, he has made 10 appearances this season and played 90 minutes in four of Cluj’s five Europa League matches. Despite being in and out of matchday squads, he’s a European regular for them at centre-back (Transfermarkt).
Aurelio, meanwhile, actually played in the majority of all three matches against Celtic earlier this season. He assisted Cluj’s goal against us in Romania in what was his only assist of the season (Transfermarkt). He has, however, missed their last three European games through injury and seems like a definite to miss the Celtic game.
Rondon is a name some in our support may recognise. After all, it was he who scored against us in Romania with a fine finish beyond Scott Bain. He’s also another to have played in all three matches against us since our European venture started this season.
Interestingly, Rondon came on for the final five minutes against Hermannstadt yesterday too, so it remains to be seen if Petrescu is playing mind-games regarding his availability. He isn’t ineligible either, as he hasn’t picked up any bookings in European competition.
If all three are out, this will seriously reduce the Romanian champions’ options next week. Three of their substitutes over the weekend had all played less than five matches this season. Should all three players above be sidelined for our visit, it will impact Petrescu’s ability to influence things from the bench.
Of course, it’s important to remember that Petrescu is a veteran and wily coach. There’s always that small possibility that he’s got his poker face on here and trying to fool us all. However, we can only take this at face value, and if this Cluj trio are missing, it gives us a larger window of opportunity to end the group stage in style.