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Florent Malouda believes mental strength will be key for France when they travel to San Siro to face Italy in an eagerly-awaited Euro 2008 qualifier on Saturday.

“Italy are tactically strong, we will have to anticipate and we will have to be careful not to let them dictate the play,” Malouda said.

“Going there for a draw is not part of France’s philosophy. So we will play with clarity and commitment.”

However, Malouda warned his team mates not to be provoked – a reference to last summer’s World Cup final when Zinedine Zidane was sent off for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

“The goal is not to provoke your opponent but that is part of the game now,” he said. “The most important thing is how you react to provocation. We will have to be mentally strong.”

“I don’t care if Materazzi plays the game or not. I don’t play against Materazzi, I play against Italy.

France lead qualifying Group B on 18 points from seven matches with Italy in second place two points behind.

Les Bleus gained a modicum of revenge for their World Cup final defeat when they beat the Azzurri 3-1 last September.

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