Along with Brazil, France and Belgium, Romania were one of only four teams to compete in each of the first three editions of the FIFA World Cup™. Having been invited to play in the 1930 edition, Romania qualified for the 1934 tournament with a 2-1 win over Yugoslavia before qualifying by default in 1938 following Egypt’s withdrawal. A barren period followed, and Romania had to wait until 1970 for their next finals appearance.
Their most successful period in the competition came in the 1990s, when they qualified for three successive FIFA World Cups in 1990, 1994 and 1998. The new generation have so far been unable to scale the same heights, and Romania have failed to qualify for the past three FIFA World Cups.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Romania beat Peru 3-1 in their first match at the 1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay, before going on to lose 4-0 against the hosts and eventual winners.
USA ’94 was undoubtedly the Tricolorii’s best FIFA World Cup showing to date. After finishing top of their group with wins over Colombia and United States, they pulled off one of the shocks of the tournament by defeating Argentina 3-2 in the Round of 16. Romania eventually went out at the quarter-final stage after losing on penalties to Sweden.
Four years later in France, they finished their group unbeaten before suffering the narrowest of defeats in the Round of 16 at the hands of Croatia.
The current crop
Romania have struggled in recent years to replicate the success of the 90s. The new generation’s goal has been to draw a line under the past and start competing at major competitions once again, and Victor Piturca made good early progress by leading Romania to UEFA EURO 2008.
However, his side were unable to maintain that forward momentum and failed to qualify for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. Brazil 2014 represents Romania’s next chance for a long-awaited return to the world stage.
The key players
One of Romania’s biggest challenges in recent times has been to replace the old guard with new young talent. Defensive stalwart Christian Chivu recently retired from the international scene after 12 seasons and 75 caps, and his absence will certainly be felt.
Chivu’s retirement leaves Adrian Mutu as the only senior figure to guide a new generation of youngsters, who no doubt dream of emulating past greats such as Gheorghe Hagi, Dan Petrescu and Gheorghe Popescu.
Coach: Victor Piturca
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup USA 1994 (Quarter-finals), FIFA U-20 World Cup Australia 1981 (Third place)
Former stars: Laszlo Boloni, Mircea Lucescu, Gheorghe Hagi