Inter draw CFR Cluj in Europa League round of 32

Posted by Mike Whittaker

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesAndrea Stramaccioni's Inter side have a tricky Europa League tie with Romanians CFR Cluj.

The draw for the last 32 in the Europa League was made today, and with several tough possibilities available to face Inter in the next round, I was pleased to see the Nerazzurri drawn against the team I was hoping for, CFR Cluj, with the first leg of the fixture being played at the Giuseppe Meazza on Valentine's day.

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Despite being one of the clubs brought into the Europa League from its more prestigious counterpart, I believe Cluj is possibly the least challenging of the teams Inter could have had to face. This doesn't mean Inter are guaranteed an easy ride through to the last 16. They must keep in mind that because they've never played against the Romanian side, they won't know for sure what to expect.

Cluj almost made it through to the last 16 of the Champions League, and were only demoted after finishing third in their group due to second place Galatasaray having a better head-to-head record. The Romanian outfit finished ahead of Braga in their group, and in their away games they drew against Galatasaray and even beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford!

This shows they are a team Inter shouldn't take lightly, especially considering the Nerazzurri's hit and miss form this season. Inter's ex-player and current advisor, Luis Figo, who was present for the draw in Nyon, was a little cagey when asked whether he considered it a good draw:

"You never know. You can't say whether it was a good draw until you've actually played the match." He then went on to explain why he considers Cluj to be a strong team: "Cluj arrive from the Champions League and won the title in their country. They came close to advancing in the Champions League, so we'll have to do our best. They're a team with qualities like Rubin Kazan. We'll have to face them with all our strength, and how things go will also depend on how we are in February."

Inter team manager Ivan Cordoba is also well aware of the threat Cluj present, as he explained to journalists after the draw:

"We'll face a team that is coming from a difficult group in the Champions League in which they finished third with 10 points, tied with Galatasaray, who advanced thanks to the head-to-head result. Manchester United won the group, and Braga -- who eliminated Udinese -- finished fourth. It will be a lovely game, and one not to be underestimated."

He was relieved however to have not drawn Liverpool, who he considers to be a tougher challenge than Chelsea:
"I don't have good memories of Liverpool and I was hoping not to end up against them. However, I would have liked Chelsea, an exciting challenge."

Despite the challenge that faces Inter against Cluj, I am fairly confident Andrea Stramaccioni's team will do what is needed to progress to the last 16. Once into the next round, they will have to face a tougher opponent in the shape of either Tottenham Hotspur or French side Lyon. Each of which are capable of causing an upset for the Nerazzurri, though, as Cordoba reminded us:

"Inter must be ready to face any team."

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