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France-Romania: make or break for Domenech

Latest update : 2008-10-10

Saturday's game against Romania will be decisive for the French manager Domenech, whose fate hangs in the balance. After the dismal performance of Les Bleus in the Euro 2008, The French Football Federation put him on probation.

For a team that has had precious little to laugh about recently this week's night out at a popular Parisian comedy club will have come as welcome relief to Raymond Domenech's France team.
  
After France's dismal Euro 2008 campaign when they returned home with one goal and one point, it looked as if Domenech's time as coach was up.
  
Yet rather than wielding the axe his French Football Federation employers elected to put the 56-year-old on probation and shake-up the national team's management structure.
  
Results since then have been mixed.
  
France got their 2010 World Cup campaign off to an embarrassing start with a 3-1 loss to Austria, ranked 105th in the world, in Vienna.
  
Then followed a 2-1 home win against Serbia to hand Domenech a much needed lifeline, and he'll be looking for a repeat performance from his men on Saturday against a side that held the former world champions to a goalless draw at Euro 2008.
  
Vultures are hovering over the head of the embattled Les Bleus manager whose fate is the 'plat du jour' when the FFF meet in Paris next Wednesday.
  
The general opinion is that only a win against Romania will suffice if Domenech is to survive as France coach.
  
France go into the game on three points in Group 7, one off the foot of the table which is topped by Lithuania on six points.
  
Domenech has received a timely double boost with the return of captain Patrick Vieira, who was part of the squad but never played at Euro 2008 as he recovered from a left thigh injury, and Franck Ribery.
  
Both players missed the first two qualifiers.
  
Vieira's return has been accompagnied by a controversial claim in a French newspaper that he had been prepared to accelerate his healing process at the Euro by taking a substance called Actovegin.
  
This is a medication based on veal's blood available in Germany, but not France.
  
Vieira denied the report, telling Thursday's L'Equipe: "I was annoyed (when I read the report)... I don't want to put my health in danger."
  
Ribery is itching to rejoin the national cause, having watched the first couple of qualifiers as a frustrated armchair viewer after picking up an ankle problem against Italy at the European championships.
  
He says there's a big difference between this side and the one that made it all the way to the 2006 World Cup final.
  
"At the World Cup we were in top form and full of confidence. Here, we've got a new group, and we've got ourselves in a difficult situation which we haven't experienced before."
  
Ribery had advice to his less experienced colleagues like Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa.
  
"Some of them will perhaps be afraid of the pressure from the media or from fans. But we have to dare, to try things, dribble and shoot at goal. We've got good players."
  
One that won't be joining Ribery and co in Romania is defender William Gallas, who is out with a strained right thigh. Lyon's Jean-Alain Boumsong will act as the Arsenal star's replacement.
  
Rennes striker Jimmy Briand is on standby in case Ben Arfa or Nicolas Anelka are forced to pull out.
  
Romania, like France on three points, are due to field Fiorentina striker Adrian Mutu and captain Cristi Chivu.
  
Local side CFR Cluj, who have caused a sensation in the Champions League by beating AS Roma and drawing with Chelsea, have one representative in midfielder Gabriel Muresan.

Date created : 2008-10-10

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