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France in need of points ahead of Dutch showdown

Latest update : 2008-06-13

After a disappointing draw in their first game against Romania, France take on the Netherlands, knowing they will need to grind out a good result against Italy's tormentors if they are to reach the tournament's final stage. (Report: Mark Owen)

France coach Raymond Domenech remained tight-lipped about his starting lineup to face Netherlands in their second match at Euro 2008 although he said that playing on Friday the 13th was not a problem.

Domenech, who is known to be interested in astrology and other mysterious matters, was asked about the date of the Group C match in Berne, the second clash of heavyweights in the tournament.

"I'm not superstitious," a relaxed Domenech told a news conference on Thursday. "It brings bad luck."

He said his 23-man squad were all fit, meaning striker Thierry Henry and midfielder Patrick Vieira, who missed the opening 0-0 draw against Romania with thigh injuries, should both take some part in the game.

"I'm not fixed on one playing system," Domenech said when asked if he might drop his 4-4-2 formation to switch to a 4-2-3-1 system, in which case Henry would play alone up front with Franck Ribery orchestrating play. Domenech said he realised France were in an uncomfortable situation before playing the Dutch, who began by thrashing world champions Italy 3-0, but said that could be positive.

"Fear can be a source of motivation in competitive sport," he said. "We know we will be playing opponents with plenty of talent and confidence. We know what we have to do and we'll try to do it the best we can."

The France coach remained cautious when asked whether his team could look more exciting than in their first match, during which they had just one shot on target.

"I hope we'll shine but I don't know," he said. "What I do know is we're solid at the back and they're dangerous up front. It should be an interesting match. I can't wait to see it."

Date created : 2008-06-13