KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS: Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu has warned hosts France that his team are well-prepared for the challenge of defying and denying them in the Opening Match of Euro 2016 tomorrow.
France have painful memories of important games against the Romanians. In the 2008 European Championship finals in Austria and Switzerland a goalless draw contributed to pushing the French out of the finals in the group stage.
Now, as then, France are favourites and expect to benefit from the capacity support of the Stade de France as the focus of tournament attention swings away from security fears and union unrest and towards the football itself.
Iordanescu, now in his third stint as national coach, made all the approprate diplomatic remarks before hinting that his team may have a few nasty surprises up their eastern European sleeves.
The 66-year-old said: “We’re honoured to be able to open such an important tournament and against the host nation who are one of the favourites. But we hope to show we are a real match for the French.
“We’ve held several team meetings and worked with out video analysts to devise a game plan so we can compete on an even footing.
“France are a very strong attacking unit. They have terrifically talented players who play in top sides in the Champions League and are worth hundreds of millions of euro. But Germany, Spain and England can also all attack very well and will also be going for trophy.”
Iordanescu knows all upsetting the odds. In 1986 he was midfield general of the Steaua Bucharest who shocked European football by defeating Barcelona on penalties in the Champions Cup Final.
He acknowledged that his own players now would come under heavy pressure from the crowd and an initial attacking surge from France. But “my players are ready to overcome these spells” and would then look to strike on the break.
As Iordanescu said: “We don’t want to simply play defensively. We want to develop a balanced style of play while posing problems of our own. France do have some shortcomings at the back.”
# # # #