Romania coach praises Switzerland ahead of Group A clash
By Matt Smith
PARIS (Reuters) - Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu portrayed his team as underdogs ahead of their Group A encounter with Switzerland at Euro 2016 on Wednesday, citing the Swiss squad’s greater experience of playing in Europe’s top leagues and his own players’ tiredness.
Romania were unfortunate to lose 2-1 to France in Friday’s tournament opener, a result that leaves Iordanescu’s charges probably requiring a least a point at the Parc des Princes to retain realistic hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Euros for the first time since 2000.
“It’s an extremely important game for Romanian football. After the French game, the first problem for our team was recuperation --- physical and psychological,” Iordanescu told a news conference.
“We hope that we will be physically prepared for tomorrow’s game.”
The 66-year-old highlighted the higher profile of Switzerland’s squad, in which 17 of the 23 players are contracted to clubs in the wealthy leagues of Germany, Italy, France and England.
Only three of Romania’s squad play in those countries, with one more in Spain, while most of the remainder ply their trade in the football backwaters of eastern Europe.
“We have to be realists, to understand that tomorrow we are going to play against a very strong team with a lot of qualities,” said Iordanescu of Wednesday’s showdown in Paris.
“I hope that my players will be concentrated, motivated and determined to win.”
Against France, Romania were defensively solid -- Dmitri Payet’s late long-range strike proving the decisive moment -- even if the eastern Europeans managed to complete less than half the number of passes as Didier Deschamps’ men.
Defender Cristian Sapunaru, however, hopes his team can dictate play against Switzerland.
“I think we are going to have more possession, control the ball more than against France,” he said.
Switzerland already have three points on the board, equal with France, after beating Albania 1-0 in their group opener.
(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Toby Davis)