Diarra fuels fire as World Cup finalists renew rivalry

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The Independent Online

Marco Materazzi may be absent, injured, but there remains an edge to the Italy-France tie in Milan tonight which goes beyond the protagonists' Group B standing. Both Florent Malouda and Lassana Diarra have made clear, critical references to the manner in which Materazzi provoked Zinedine Zidane's dismissal in the 2006 World Cup final.

Malouda warned his team-mates to be "mentally strong" while Diarra said: "The reputation the Italians have is of cheats and provokers."

The mood is further inflamed by the touchline and dressing-room ban on Raymond Domenech after he suggested that the referee at an Under-21 international between the countries in 1999 had been bribed.

The French coach hopes to field Patrick Vieira against the wishes of Internazionale. "If he can play one hour, everything is fine," said Domenech.

Italy are likely to be without Luca Toni.

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