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Materazzi to miss France showdown

  • Story Highlights
  • Italy's Marco Materazzi will miss the Euro 2008 qualifier against France
  • He suffered a thigh injury in the 3-1 friendly defeat by Hungary in Budapest
  • Materazzi will need several weeks to recover according to Italy's team doctor
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ROME, Italy -- World Cup winners Italy, humbled 3-1 by Hungary in a friendly on Wednesday, will face France in next month's Euro 2008 qualifier without defender Marco Materazzi.

Matterazzi suffered an injury to his right thigh during the embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Hungary.

The Inter Milan player, forever associated with his spectacular run-in with Zinedane Zidane in Berlin's Olympic Stadium last year, injured his right thigh in the embarrassing loss to the Hungarians in Budapest.

He has had an operation to remove a build up of blood in the thigh.

The 34-year-old's doctor revealed details of the operation on Thursday and moved to calm fears that the Inter Milan centre-back would face a lengthy lay-off.

"He's fine, he's tough," said Franco Combi, possibly forgetting the theatrical manner Materazzi slumped to the ground following Zidane's infamous headbutt to his chest during the World Cup final.

Combi refused to be drawn on an exact date for Materazzi's return to action but it is thought that he will miss both European Championships qualifiers next month, against France in Milan Ukraine in Kiev.

"What's important is that we stopped the bruise from worsening, we stopped any physical damage," added Combi. "We'll see if there are any complications, the delay will be what it will be."

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro shocked the fans with his error-strewn display in Budapest.

The 33-year-old World Cup winner looked a shadow of his former self when he rashly dived in on Tamas Priskin to gift Hungary a penalty, which made it 2-1.

The years looked to have caught up with him when he was beaten for pace by Zoltan Gera and tried a desperate slide that the Hungary captain easily evaded to set up the third goal.

"We have never seen Cannavaro in such crisis," ran a headline in Gazzetta dello Sport, which gave him a 4.5 out of 10 for his performance.

The players were philosophical about the defeat.

"On an evening like this in which everyone has failed to express themselves well, you always go searching for the errors of an individual," goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon told reporters.

"Instead we should say a big apology and prepare ourselves for the next game."

Despite the defeat, there have been no calls for the resignation of coach Roberto Donadoni, who was forced to select players before they had played a competitive match this season.

He had pleaded with the league to start Serie A last weekend but instead the big kick-off is this Saturday.

Donadoni also stuck by Cannavaro. "Fabio Cannavaro made two big mistakes, but these things happen in football," he told reporters. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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