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Romania are no walk in the park – Domenech

SoccerNews in European Championships, Ligue 1 8 Jun 2008

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Zurich has plenty of city parks but France are not expecting a leisurely stroll in one when they open their Euro 2008 campaign against Romania on Monday.

The two-time European champions and World Cup finalists approach this opening Group C clash missing their skipper Patrick Vieira through injury, and with a doubt over the fitness of striker Thierry Henry.

The Barcelona forward has skipped three training sessions this week.

Declining to elaborate on the nature of Henry's problem and the likelihood of him leading the French attack coach Raymond Domenech described the mood in the French camp as one of impatience.

“Like any team we want to get started. Romania will be ready and strong – it's not going to be a walk in the park.”

He likened the style of Victor Piturca's Romania to that of another occupant of Group C – Italy.

“They play a little like the Italians – they're skilled, organised and disciplined. Both teams have a similar profile.”

With Vieira out of the picture, at least for Monday, the captaincy falls to France's record-breaking player Lilian Thuram who identified Adrian Mutu as the Romanian dangerman.

“I've played with Mutu, he's an outstanding player. He can make the difference in a game. He's one of the best players in Europe and Italy, he's made a difference at Fiorentina.”

Mutu could be forgiven for having his mind on other things rather than this competition after being presented with a 12 million loss of revenue bill by former club Chelsea over his drugs ban back in 2003 and the death of his grandmother.

But Piturca dismissed suggestions that his star striker would not be up to giving his all as Romania seek to do a Scotland who managed to defeat France twice in qualifying.

“Adrian doesn't seem to be that affected – as far as I'm aware he doesn't owe money to Chelsea so far.”

Piturca, whilst acknowledging the logic that has Romania as outsiders in a first round group that also features 1988 champions Holland, was by no means ruling out serving up a surprise.

“This is football – anything can happen – the best organised and most inspired and luckiest team can manage to win a game.

“Whenever you play France it's probable that you'll lose. With Italy, Brazil and Argentina they're the best team in the world.

“If we succeed in winning it'll be extraordinary for Romania.”

He then evoked memories of the 1970 World Cup where Romania had as group rivals defending world champions England, Brazil and the Czech Republic.

“We've had times when Romania had fantastic teams – they were equally powerful back then in Mexico.”

Asked if he was planning to play for a draw against the French and Italy and go for three points against the Dutch Piturca replied: “My strategy is for Romania to get three points from the first game.”

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