Domenech wary of classy Romania

June 9, 2008

France coach Raymond Domenech has likened Romania to old foes Italy as he prepares for his side's Group C opener against the eastern Europeans in Zurich on Monday.

Most pundits are predicting the Romanians will be the whipping boys in a pool that also includes Holland and Italy, the world champions.

But Victor Piturca's men proved they are no mugs by topping their qualifying group in a campaign that saw them take four points off the Dutch.

Domenech has huge respect for France's first Euro 2008 opponents.

'I think they play a lot like Italy,' said the 56-year-old, whose side lost to the Azzurri in the World Cup final in 2006.

'They are skilful, well-organised and disciplined - so they have a similar profile.

'I'm worried about everything and anything, as you are before any big match.

'I think all three of our opponents inspire doubt in our players. There are doubts, because the group is not easy.'

Lilian Thuram, who will captain Les Bleus in the absence of the injured Patrick Vieira, reckons Fiorentina forward Adrian Mutu is the player his team-mates have to watch out for.

'I have played with Mutu at Juventus,' said the veteran centre-back.

'He is outstanding - and when it comes to set-pieces, he is one of the best players around.

'He has made a difference for both Fiorentina and Parma - and from what I saw of him at Juventus, I know how dangerous a player he can be.'

Mutu has been ordered to pay his old club Chelsea £9.6million for testing positive for cocaine, his lawyer claimed recently.

Chelsea sacked Mutu in October 2004, and he was subsequently handed a seven-month worldwide football ban.

Cristian Sarbu, Mutu's lawyer, said his client would contest FIFA's ruling - but Romania coach Piturca does not believe this has preyed on the mind of his striker in the lead-up to the game.

'He doesn't seem to be that bothered,' he said.

'As far as I know, he owes no money to Chelsea. To put it short, I don't think it has affected him at all.'

While Romania have no new injury problems, France still have concerns over Franck Ribery (ankle) and Thierry Henry (back).

Vieira is out as he struggles to recover fully from a thigh tear.