Domenech reflects on France-Romania draw

10th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

The French manager will have to make sure that Friday’s game against the Netherlands will not be a replay on Monday’s match.

10 June 2008

ZURICH -  First night nerves, an impotent attack, a stolid Romania team and even the weather were all put forward as reasons why favourites France were held to a goalless draw in their opening Euro 2008 tie here Monday.

Manager Raymond Domenech left Zurich's Letzigrund stadium knowing that only a win against their next Group C opponents Holland in Berne on Friday will do to keep the 2000 champions alive and kicking in these championships.

It's fair to say he won't be getting much sleep as he tries to fathom out a way to unlock the key to France's impotent strike force.

"I wish we had won this game 10-0 with many goal chances but that didn't happen," Domenech told the post-match press conference.

At least he can take solace from the likely return from injury of France's all-time leading goalscorer Thierry Henry after the unconvincing display of Karim Benzema and Nicolas Anelka against the Romanians.

"Thierry's doing better. He had a small problem and wasn't quite ready for today. He'll be back on track tomorrow."

Another plus for Domenech is the fact that talismanic captain Patrick Vieira, with all his international experience, has recovered from his injury sufficiently to have remained with the squad.

Despite only taking a point from the supposed underdogs in the group of death Domenech remained hopeful about making it into the quarter finals.

"I'll be disappointed if we don't qualify. I'm already preparing for the next game against the Dutch."

He drew parallels with the opening game stalemate against Switzerland at the 2006 World Cup.

"It's the same time, the same weather, a similar stadium, and what's more just like that day in Germany our coach today stopped at every red light on the way to the stadium, and like today Claude Makelele was the man of the match."

He added: "We were all a bit nervous, that's what happens with a first match.

"But remember Romania defended well and we didn't manage to lose them, there was always a risk that they'd do something on the break.

"We've known this group was going to be tough for six months, today we saw the confirmation."

Both Domenech and his Romanian counterpart Victor Piturca suggested climactic conditions had hardly helped the players.

"This has been the first very hot day after a week of cold weather - it made things difficult and didn't help the teams to find solutions."

Piturca is an impassive character but he must have been chuffed to bits with coming away from the game with a priceless point in front of vociferous support from thousands of Romanian supporters.

"It was very important to play well in front of all those fans - we felt their hearts supporting us and I'm really glad we managed to satisfy them.

"Personally we would have wanted the three points. France may no longer be at the same level as before - or perhaps they've just played in too many major finals and were being generous!

"My aim was to win three points but a draw is a fair result. Both teams are still in a good position to qualify."

While France meet the Dutch in Berne Romania return to Zurich for their date with world champions Italy on Friday.

[AFP / Expatica]

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