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Astra Giurgiu are less than 100 years old.

Astra Giurgiu are Romania's version of Leicester City

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Leicester City may be gaining the majority of the plaudits this season, but away from the Premier League, another unlikely title-winner has emerged in Europe.

Few teams in the Romanian top-flight, other than Steaua Bucharest are anything close to being household names. At least, that is certainly the case when it comes to Astra Giurgiu.

However, that may be about to change after the club ended Steaua's run of three consecutive titles, collecting their first top-flight league trophy in the process.

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So how do they compare to Leicester? 

Astra's history 

Astra first came into existence back in 1921, 37 years after Leicester City was founded, with the club already having changed names an impressive 13 times. They were most recently called FC Astra Ploiești before changing back to Astra Giurgiu in 2012. 

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Have they won less than Leicester?

While Leicester have won two League Cup titles and have featured in the FA Cup final on four occasions, Astra's trophy haul, prior to this season, amounted to a Romanian second division title, along with a Romanian Cup crown and Super Romanian Cup win.

Are they less known in Europe?

Leicester may be best known for one short UEFA Cup run that led to a two-legged tie with Atletico Madrid in 1998. Astra featured in the early stages of the 2012/2013 Europa league, and they will also be remembered by English fans as the team that knocked West Ham out of the competition in the qualifying rounds this season just gone. 

West Ham United v Astra - UEFA Europa League

Are they a smaller club?

Astra are undoubtedly a smaller club than Leicester. Astra did not feature in the Romanian top-flight until 1998 when the club, bank-rolled by businessman Ioan Niculae, gained promotion to the first division, where they have remained ever since.

The key men 

Valerică Găman is like Robert Huth and Wes Morgan rolled into one. The 6ft 2 centre-back is club captain, having been with Astra since 2011. He arrived at the club on a free transfer from Dinamo Bucharest.

Do they have a Riyad Mahrez?

Sort of. Brazilian midfielder William De Amorim has been with the club through thick and thin since moving to the club from Corinthians, a Brazilian side with a reputation for young talent to rival Le Havre, where Mahrez came from. He's bagged several important goals and assists this term.

Their Jamie Vardy? 

Denis Alibec's story isn't a rags to riches one as such, but more a riches to rags and back again tale. Picked up by Inter Milan after impressing as a youngster in Romania, Alibec was subsequently sent out on loan to various clubs across Belgium and Italy before returning to his homeland with Astra.

Now 24, Alibec has bagged 15 goals in 25 league games and he could be in contention for Romania at the Euros.

Bologna FC v Bolzano - Pre-Season Friendly

A bigger deal than Leicester?

Claudio Ranieri may have been much maligned for winning very little before moving to Leicester, but Astra Manager Marius Sumudica had won nothing until this most recent title success.

A journeyman manager with 16 jobs to his name in less than a decade of management, the former striker finally looks to have settled. 

Where do Astra play?

At the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici, which seats 8,500, just over a quarter of the capacity of Leicester's King Power stadium.

How did they finish?

Top of the table going into the Championship round, Astra then finished five points clear of Steaua, sealing a well-deserved title. 

West Ham United v Astra - UEFA Europa League

Is it a bigger deal than Leicester's triumph?

Astra might be a smaller club from even humbler beginnings, but Astra's success has a lot to do with their owner's deep pockets, though of course, Leicester's owners are also billionaires. For Astra, though, those finances could mean more sustained domestic success in the future, which even Leicester are not expecting. 

Don't expect to see them in the Champions League any time soon though. 

Is Leicester's story the greatest football fairytale? Have your say in the comments. 

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Topics:
Leicester City
Football
Premier League

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