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By ESPN Staff

Totti offers sympathy to suspended Frings

Germany have had to make late tactical changes ahead of Tuesday's World Cup semi-final with Italy after FIFA banned midfielder Torsten Frings for throwing a punch at the end of his team's win over Argentina.

Just as Francesco Totti was punished at Euro 2004 after TV images captured him spitting in the face of a Danish opponent, FIFA examined television replays after Germany's win on penalties over the South Americans in the last eight.

Totti, Italy's playmaker and arguably their most dangerous player, knows Frings' absence means he will have to contend with someone else defending against his darting runs from the midfield into the final third.

Totti said: 'I'm sorry for Frings. He was supposed to mark me but I guess it could be a slight advantage for us that Germany will not have him.

'Whoever takes his place will nevertheless want to prove his worth.'

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was surprised that Frings only found out his punishment on the eve of the game.

'We certainly didn't request this ban,' he said. 'I guess if they have punished him it's because they had to. He who makes a mistake must pay.

'It's unfortunate because Frings was the only German player that I know how he takes his penalty kicks.'

The Italians, however, will want to avoid at all costs a penalty shoot-out against the Germans following their poor record in the past - the Azzurri failed to succeed from the spot in 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups.

'I really don't want to think about that,' said defender Marco Materazzi. 'But if it has to be done I am ready to take one.'