France coach Raymond Domenech has a number of selection dilemmas to resolve ahead of his side’s opening Group C game against Romania.
Captain Patrick Vieira struggling with a thigh strain and with Thierry Henry carrying a minor injury, Domenech was giving nothing away regarding his starting line-up.
Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan is expected to take Vieira’s place, while Henry could be replaced by Nicolas Anelka despite training at the Letzigrund Stadion on Sunday for the first time in four days.
Franck Ribery, who picked up an ankle injury in France’s 1-0 victory in the warm-up game against Colombia on Thursday, is also a concern for Domenech.
“At this moment the state of health of all 23 players is as good as I could have hoped for on the eve of a major tournament,” Domenech said.
After four years of France, the 56-year-old admitted he still suffered from pre-tournament nerves.
“I’m worried about everything,” Domenech said. “As a coach you wonder if you’ve done everything possible to prepare your team, and even if you have, you don’t know what will happen. We’ll be up against three good teams who all want to eliminate us so there’s always a worry that you might get swept aside.”
Domenech refuses to underestimate Romania, comparing today’s opponents to world champions Italy.
“Of the sides we’ve played recently, Romania’s style is closest to Italy’s,” he stated. “They combine individual talent with organisation and discipline. I’m expecting a very hard match.”
Romania face arguably the toughest task of any side competing at Euro 2008. Yet coach Victor Piturca remains convinced his side have enough quality to hold their own in what looks to be the hardest group of all.
Competing in their first finals for eight years, Romania find themselves in Group C alongside traditional heavyweights France, Italy and Holland, but Piturca hopes to to spring a surprise in Zurich.
“When you look at the four teams it’s understandable that people say we’re underdogs,” the 52-year-old said. “Our aim is to start changing those opinions.”
“I don’t know if it’s the hardest group there’s ever been but when you’re pooled with the two World Cup finalists and the Netherlands, you know it won’t be easy,” he added.
“France are a great team – the best in the world along with Brazil, Argentina and Italy. But Romania also have pedigree and we’ll have our say in the group.”
Romania’s chances of claiming their first victory over France for 36 years, were boosted by the news that Dorin Goian is fit to take his place alongside Gabriel Tamas in central defence, meaning a midfield role for Cristian Chivu.
Stuttgart’s Ciprian Marica is expected to partner Adrian Mutu in attack, although Piturca says he is “still considering one or two different options”.
Mutu echoed Piturca’s positive outlook, stating: “We will do our best and a positive result against France would give us real impetus for the games against Italy and Holland.
“As our captain Cristian Chivu said, ‘It’s time for us to show what we can do’.”