Italy and France are both deprived of influential midfielders for disciplinary reasons for this evening's meeting in Parma.
The highly rated Frenchman Yann M'Vila is banned from appearing for his country for 20 months, after a French Federation (FFF) panel found he had been the ringleader of an unauthorised night out with four other members of the Under 21 team.
Roma's Daniele de Rossi has been discarded by Cesare Prandelli, the Italy coach, because of his red card, for throwing a punch, during Sunday's fiery Rome derby.
De Rossi knew his club misdemeanour would cost him a cap. Prandelli operates a "code of ethics" where players serving a domestic suspension will not be picked by Italy. Prandelli is a moralist, and maintains the Azzurri should set an example.
The FFF, have lately attempted to be exemplary, partly a reaction to the embarrassing mutiny of players at the 2010 World Cup. Of the France squad in Italy, Franck Ribery, Patrice Evra and Jeremy Menez have all served internally imposed international bans for errant behaviour.
Prandelli and the FFF would share the view that club employers tend to act pragmatically rather than out of principle when players set bad examples; that a national team should take the role-model status of its stars seriously. It is a laudable stance, but a risky one.
One day, Prandelli may well have to leave a key player out of a crucial game because of his "code of ethics". If he fudges the issue, the code collapses for good.
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