France will host Italy this week in Nice in the second of three warm up games for the 2018 World Cup, with Les Bleus having already beaten Republic of Ireland 2-0 in Paris in their preparations for a summer in Russia.

The game will provide a different kind of test than against Ireland, with Italy keen to prove they don't deserve to be missing out on the global football party.

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Classic Encounter

Although the two countries contested the final of Euro 2000, the most high profile meeting between France and Italy came in the biggest game of all: the World Cup final in 2006.

The contest finished 1-1 after 120 minutes of action in Berlin's Olympiastadion and was eventually won on penalties by Italy, but it will always be remembered for the drama that unfolded between Zinedine Zidane, playing his last ever game, and Marco Materazzi.


After angry words were exchanged, Zidane planted his head squarely in the chest of the Italian defender and was given his marching orders to bring the curtain down on his illustrious career in the worst possible way.

Zidane, who scored France's only goal just as Materazzi had netted for Italy, had been instrumental in winning the World Cup for France on home soil in 1998 and in taking his country back to the final in 2006. He would have taken a penalty in the shootout, but it was not to be.

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Key Battles

Pogba vs. Jorginho

With Italy's Jorginho thought to be close to joining Manchester City from Napoli, this midfield clash with Manchester United's Paul Pogba could offer something of a preview as to what might be coming in the Premier League next season.


Pavard/Kimpembe vs. Belotti

Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane are likely to be France's primary defensive partnership at the World Cup, but this could be a chance for Deschamps to pair together Benjamin Pavard and Presnel Kimpembe, who have just six senior caps between them so far.

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Team News

France are without Raphael Varane for the time being, with his exploits for Real Madrid in the Champions League delaying his involvement. Didier Deschamps could make major changes from the side that beat Ireland, meaning likely starts for Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Hugo Lloris, N'Golo Kante, Thomas Lemar and others.


Similarly, Italy could make changes from the side that recently beat Saudi Arabia. There could be starts for the likes of Andrea Belotti, Mattia Perin and Giacomo Bonaventura.

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Predicted Lineups

France: Lloris, Sidibe, Pavard, Kimpembe, Hernandez, Dembele, Kante, Pogba, Lemar, Griezmann, Mbappe

Italy: Perin, D'Ambrosio, Bonucci, Romagnoli, De Sciglio, Florenzi, Jorginho, Bonaventura, Berardi, Belotti, Insigne

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Given their wealth of young talent in every position, France are one of the fancied team at the World Cup. However, under the new management of Roberto Mancini, Italy will be desperate to show they deserved to be going to Russia too and could really make a game of it.

France 2-2 Italy