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Get thee behind us all, Satan

His nickname is Satan. His car registration number is 666. His uncle used to sleep in a graveyard. Is it really a surprise that the Romania manager, Are Prada Handbags Cheaper In Italy Victor Piturca, is thriving in the group of death? Keen astrologer Raymond Domenech should have seen this coming.

Late on Friday night, grim reality finally dawned on Domenech. ‘Our fate appears to be already written,’ he lamented after France’s 4-1 hammering by Holland, a result that probably spells doom not only for the French, but also for Italy, whom they meet on Tuesday night in what could be one of football’s liveliest ever dead rubbers.

Les Bleus and the Azzurri will go at each other hell-for-leather handbags, while all the time knowing that a Romania victory over Holland will render the result redundant. ‘Holland are already through so they will probably rest a lot of players and they certainly won’t play with the same energy they showed against us and Italy,’ Domenech fretted. ‘It is very difficult to imagine them beating Romania.’

But Domenech should be more optimistic – after all, if the unimaginable is ever going to materialise, it will probably do so in a group that has already seen Holland put seven goals past the two finalists of the most recent World Cup. On the other hand, of course, Piturca has already proven he can master the Dutch. Romania met Holland twice in the qualifiers, recording a win and a draw and, most impressively in view of what Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Outlet Online has happened this week, allowed Marco van Basten’s marauders to find the net only once.

There is nothing esoteric or sinister about Piturca’s success. The simple explanation is that, although he nearly always dresses in black, Romania’s manager is very bright. His macabre demeanour comes mainly from a tragic past – his cousin, Florin Petre, was a professional footballer who died in 1978 at the age of 27 as a result, according to his family, of being force-fed purportedly performance-enhancing drugs by the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Heartbroken, Florin’s father built an ornate tomb for his son and slept beside it every night until he himself died 16 years later. Hardly surprising, then, that Piturca does not sport rose-tinted glasses.

Being devoid of delusions helps make him an effective manager. This is not a man who thinks his team are better than Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes they really are. He has a lucid grasp of their strengths and weaknesses. Romania are compact, organised and extremely resilient, which is not to reduce them to a calculating tribute act to Greece 2004. Just because he is not in thrall to cant about the beautiful Authentic Prada Clutch game does not mean that Piturca cannot be pretty.

Against Holland in the qualifiers, they defended with two diligent rows of four and aspired only to attack on the break. A 0-0 draw and a 1-0 win were their reward. They took a similar approach in their tournament opener against France and restricted a team that boasted some of the best attacking talent in Europe to only one shot on target. Against Italy, however, while they remained generally superb at the back, they also showed admirable adventure going forward and contributed handsomely to a hugely entertaining game.

Left-back Razvan Rat scurried down the flank like a young Roberto Carlos, while Christian Chivu and Mirel Radoi outshone the brilliant Andrea Pirlo in the middle, preventing and probing in equal measure. Between midfield and attack, Adrian Mutu wandered and wriggled inventively, combining the imagination of Alessandro Del Piero with the energy of Luca Toni. Unfortunately for Romania, he chose to finish like Toni, too, by missing a Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Philippines second-half penalty – had he not clipped his shot straight at Gianluigi Bicester Village Prada Discount Buffon, Romania would almost certainly be in the quarter-finals already, barring freak results. If France and Italy were thankful for Mutu’s miss, so too should we be, because we can now relish an intriguing Group C denouement.

Romania will attack Holland because a win will guarantee qualification (although even a defeat would see them through if France and Italy draw 0-0). Holland will attack Romania because to Van Basten defending is heresy. Italy will attack France because Roberto Donadoni is almost as gung-ho as his former Milan team-mate, and About Prada Products also because the Italian defence is so dodgy it is as if they are trying to dispel a stereotype. Who would have thought we would see an Italy manager so short of decent centre-backs that he had to resort to deploying full-backs in the middle? And who would have thought that one of those full-backs, Christian Panucci, would score the equaliser against Romania that keeps Italy’s faint hopes of survival flickering?

The best defender in Serie A, of course, is French. But, ridiculously, Roma’s Philippe Mexs is not at this tournament because Domenech dislikes his uppity personality. Instead, Domenech decided to Are All Prada Handbags Leather make 36-year-old Barcelona reserve Lilian Thuram the fulcrum of his defence, and persisted in making that defence the focus of the whole team. The folly of this was exposed against the nimble Dutch, as France conceded four goals for the first time in 26 years.

France should attack Italy because events have proven that they cannot, contrary to what Domenech thought, rely on their defence and because they showed enough against the Dutch to indicate that they still have some of the most exciting offensive talent in the tournament. And that was Are Prada Mens Shoes Good despite the fact that their coach kept Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri on the bench throughout. Surely he is the only coach in the world who, with his team desperately needing goals, would refuse to unleash two of the most gifted and confident young attackers in the world?

Word is, the decision will be taken out of his hands. In the French camp mutiny is afoot. Some of the youngsters have fallen out with some of the senior players and almost the Are All Prada Products Made In Italy whole squad distrust the coach. So yes, France will attack, either Italy, themselves, or both. As the Dutch sail with unexpected artistry and uncharacteristic serenity, will Van Basten risk losing momentum by resting players against Romania, inviting defeat? Or will he, perhaps, go all-out to eliminate the Romanians so that the Dutch can meet either France or Italy again in the semi-final? Could this group treat us to yet another devilish twist?