Domenech unconcerned by Portugal's 'diving'

July 5, 2006

France coach Raymond Domenech tried to soften the tone ahead of tonight's World Cup semi-final with Portugal after defender William Gallas had predicted Luiz Felipe Scolari's side would use every trick in the book against Les Bleus.

Gallas warned that the Portuguese would try to 'destabilise' France with 'little fouls' and 'diving' but Domenech avoided any provocative comments about the Portuguese when he took the microphone after the Chelsea defender had finished speaking.

Asked about Gallas' remarks, Domenech said: 'Portugal can play well, they will cause us problems technically, tactically and physically.

'They have shown they are a good team because they have reached the semi-finals, it would be wrong to dismiss them in that way.'

Domenech, who was France's Under-21 coach when Les Bleus won the 1998 World Cup, continued: 'We are ready for the semi-final, we are feeling exceptionally well.'

Repeating what has become a regular phrase at his press conferences in Germany, Domenech said: 'Our objective remains July 9 (the day of the final) but to get to July 9 we must be better still because Portugal did not get to the semi-final by accident.'

Domenech is expected to stick with the same team that has beaten Spain in the last 16 and outgoing champions Brazil in the quarter-finals.

However, six French players - including five starters - go into the match knowing a booking would rule them out of the final were France to get there.

The five starters walking the disciplinary tightrope are Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Willy Sagnol, Franck Ribery and Lilian Thuram, while substitute Louis Saha will also be at risk if he gets involved against the Portuguese.

'We won't be talking about the final before the semi-final,' said Domenech. 'But the match with Portugal could help us reach our July 9 objective.'

Domenech continued: 'We will only know what will happen when the match gets underway. They will cause us problems and we will cause them some problems as well. It's the team that deals with it best that will end up winning the match.'

Domenech admitted he had to work hard to get his players up for another big match after the win against Brazil, saying: 'It's the same for all the coaches.

'You have to try to prepare the team as quickly as possible.'