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Jul 28, 2021 at 9.30am UK at Sapporo Dome
Romania U23sRomania Under-23s
N.Zealand U23sNew Zealand Under-23s

Chindris (28'), Dulca (30')

Garbett (21'), Elliot (42'), Stamenic (89')

Preview: Romania Under-23s vs. New Zealand Under-23s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Olympic Games Men's Football clash between Romania Under-23s and New Zealand Under-23s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Romania Under-23s take on New Zealand Under-23s in the Olympic Games on Wednesday, with victory guaranteeing either side's progression to the knockout stages.

Both teams won their opening games but lost last time out, meaning Group B is perfectly poised heading into the final group games.

Match preview

Romania players celebrate their first goal on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Competing in football at the Olympics for the first time in 57 years, Romania U23s secured a surprise victory against Honduras courtesy of Elvin Oliva's own goal in their opening match.

However, Mirel Radoi's side were brought back down to Earth by a humbling 4-0 defeat to South Korea on Sunday, significantly reducing their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals in the process.

Destiny ultimately remains in their own hands, although that is true of all four teams in the group, heading into Wednesday's showdown with New Zealand U23s.

They will likely go into the game as underdogs given that New Zealand possess Premier League quality players such as Chris Wood and Winston Reid, but there is no reason why they cannot win the game.

Chris Wood of New Zealand celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on July 22, 2021© Reuters

New Zealand could have been heading into the game against Romania with absolutely no pressure on their shoulders had they held on against Honduras on Sunday, but two late goals inflicted a disappointing 3-2 defeat against them.

Liberato Cacace and Wood had struck either side of half time to provide the OFC side with a 2-1 lead, but Juan Carlos Obregon and Rigoberto Rives both scored within the last 12 minutes of normal time to keep their nation's hopes of progressing to the knockout stages for a third successive Olympics alive.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have never made it to the final eight at this tournament, making Wednesday's test against Romania all the greater.

Should they perform as they have done in their first two matches, Danny Hay will be confident of his side competing into the weekend and potentially beyond.

Romania Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • W
  • L

New Zealand Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • W
  • L

Team News

Romania manager Mirel Radoi on March 31, 2021© Reuters

Romania's cause was not exactly helped by Ion Gheorghe picking up two yellow cards inside the first half, with South Korea running riot by adding three goals after the break.

The midfielder will miss out on Wednesday's game due to suspension, with Tudor Baluta likely to replace him, unless Marius Marin moves back into central midfield.

Florin Stefan is unlikely to feature after coming off at half time of Romania's opening game due to an injury, while Alex Pascanu could return in place of Marin at centre-back.

New Zealand, meanwhile, made no changes in terms of personnel against Honduras and are likely to go with the same starting XI once again despite their defeat.

However, Hay could revert to 4-4-2 against Romania, having began with more of a 3-4-3 system on Sunday, even though that would mean Cacace starting from a nominally deeper position on the left flank.

Romania Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Aioani; Ratiu, Pascanu, Ghita, Roboc; Dulca, Baluta; Dobre, Ciobanu, Sefer; Ganea

New Zealand Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Woud; Ingham, Pijnaker, Reid, Cacace; Stensness, Bell, Lewis, Just; McCowatt, Wood

SM words green background

We say: Romania Under-23s 0-1 New Zealand Under-23s

We can envisage a narrow victory for New Zealand, which would guarantee their place in the quarter-finals.

Romania's confidence is likely to be on the floor after their heavy defeat at the hands of South Korea, whereas Hay's side were unfortunate to lose to Honduras.

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Romania manager Mirel Radoi on March 31, 2021
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