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Real Madrid vs. AC Milan in Dubai

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Veteran Panucci recalled for Italy qualifiers

MILAN, Sept 2 (Reuters) - AS Roma defender Christian Panucci was recalled to the Italy squad on Sunday for the Euro 2008 Group B qualifying double-header against France and Ukraine.

Panucci, 34, last played for the Azzurri at Euro 2004 but has been drafted back after Marco Materazzi was ruled out of the the Sept 8 and 12 matches because of the thigh injury he picked up in Italy's 3-1 friendly defeat in Hungary last month.

Marcello Lippi surprisingly ignored Panucci as a potential right back in Italy's World-Cup winning squad last year.

Panucci has since switched to centre back for Roma and some solid displays have convinced current coach Roberto Donadoni to bring him back into a squad lacking defensive experience following Alessandro Nesta's international retirement.

Palermo's Andrea Barzagli and recalled Fiorentina defender Alessandro Gamberini will be competing with Panucci to partner Fabio Cannavaro, who endured one of his worst performances in the defeat by Hungary.

Donadoni was forced to pick the squad for the Hungary game before they had played a competitive match and he has made several changes now players have games under their belts, with Roma's Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta notable inclusions.

Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni was also named in the 25-man squad despite suffering from a thigh strain.

Cagliari midfielder Pasquale Foggia was handed a first call-up following his two penalties in the 3-2 defeat by Juventus on Sunday while Juve left back Giorgio Chiellini, who grabbed the last-minute winner in Sardinia, returns to the senior squad for the first time in a year.

Second-placed Italy play group leaders France in Milan in a repeat of the World Cup final next Saturday and face Ukraine in Kiev the following Wednesday.