Victor Piturca suggested that France might not be “as strong as they once were” after his Romania side drew 0-0 against the beaten 2006 World Cup finalists in their opening Group C game.
It was a physically demanding game, and I’m satisfied with the result,” said Piturca. “Of course we would also have taken the three points – France are maybe not as strong as they once were.
Piturca played down suggestions that talismanic striker Adrian Mutu was substituted because he was carryine a knock.
“Nothing happened to Adrian Mutu [who was substituted in the second half] – he couldn’t play for all of the preparation period, so it was important that he got 75 minutes here,” said the Romania coach. “In the next match, I’m sure you’ll see the real Mutu. I was worried because our players picked up bookings too easily in the first half, but the boys understood my message at half-time and we managed not to get another yellow card.
Returning to his theme of a France side in decline, Piturca wondered whether some of the more experienced French players might have grown tired of international football.
“France have good players but perhaps they have a couple of players who have got older,” he said. “They are experienced players but perhaps they have got tired of playing in these final tournaments. I don’t really care who wins [between the Netherlands and Italy in the other Group C game in Berne]. The important thing is that we prepare well for our match against Italy – we don’t want to lose that game.”