ITALY midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has added to the simmering tension with France before tonight’s Group C clash by branding their coach Raymond Domenech “an idiot” and claiming that, “he can’t stop talking crap”.
Relations between the sides have been at a low ebb ever since the 2006 World Cup final in which Zinedine Zidane was sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi, although Gattuso has blamed Domenech for the ill-feeling between the nations.
If Romania beat Holland in Berne, Italy and France will be knocked out of Euro 2008 tonight: but if Romania fail to win, whoever comes out on top in Zurich will qualify as Group C runners-up.
“You have to realise that Domenech has created a lot of the rivalry between France and Italy in recent times all on his own,” said Gattuso.
Between the players, everything is fine, we know each other, we respect each other and we have a normal sporting rivalry. And then he comes along and it degenerates.
The end result [of his behaviour] is that everyone behaves badly — when the French came to play at the San Siro for the qualifier, the crowd booed them. I was ashamed. But without Domenech’s circus, it wouldn’t have happened. “Personally he winds me up. He just can’t stop talking crap.”
Meanwhile, France will go into their crunch showdown against arch-rivals Italy without captain Patrick Vieira after the Inter Milan midfielder revealed he was still troubled by his nagging thigh injury.
Vieira had been hoping to take part in at least one of Les Bleus’ pool matches at Euro 2008 despite tearing his left thigh in training on May 30.
But he missed France’s opening two games — the goalless draw to Romania and the 4-1 defeat to Holland — and will now be absent when his team take on the Italians.
“Unfortunately there is not a lot of improvement,” he said, when asked about the state of his thigh. I can practise but I still feel pain and I can’t accelerate or shoot through the ball.
“I am slightly irritated because I don’t see any improvement. I knew I was not going to play in the first or second match but I was confident about the third.”
Boss Domenech was pessimistic as he faced the media ahead of what could prove to be his last match as France coach.
“We have one match to play, with a very small chance of going through depending on the other match,” he said.
“We need to perform well, otherwise it is not even worth thinking about the other match.”
But he maintains whatever side he puts out will have to find a balance that has been lacking in their first two games.
“We were criticised after the Romania match (for being defensive), now we are getting criticised the other side,” Domenech said.
“So I hope we can strike a balance. Obviously the result (against Holland) was disastrous, but the content was not.”
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