France coach Raymond Domenech has played down fears that his ageing team will not have recovered from their semi-final win over Portugal in time for Sunday’s final with Italy.

Domenech was criticised before the tournament for picking several veterans over the age of 30.

“It’s true that we were wasted, but being tired after a semi-final is normal and we’ll recover,” admitted Domenech.

“For me, the guys are not old. At 30 or 35 you still follow a preparation and then faith that makes the difference.”

He added: “They must believe what they are doing is meaningful.

“Over six months you can expect players of that age to have problems, but not over a period of a month and seven matches.

“Portugal’s Luis Figo is the same age as Zinedine Zidane and he wasn’t bad on Wednesday. We are not the only team with old players.

“We must not go there with doubts and play a match thinking about what will happen after the match or having mentally already played the final – that happens a lot.”

France defender Eric Abidal believes his country’s tough route to the final will stand them in good stead on Sunday. Victories over Spain, Brazil and Portugal have made the French battle-hardened, argues Abidal.

Abidal said: “We have only been playing the best teams and at this level we have to show how good we are.

“Great players come to the fore at big games and we will be there on 9 July.

“We fought really hard to get here, but the further we go the tougher the matches get.”