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World Cup Usa 1994 : Analysis

July 17, 1994|GRAHAME L. JONES

The problems that have plagued Italian Coach Arrigo Sacchi throughout the tournament continue to multiply. Injuries are his main concern, with forward Roberto Baggio on Friday listed as only 50-50 for the game. Baggio's hamstring strain could spell the difference between victory and defeat for Italy.

The suspensions of defenders Mauro Tassotti and Alessandro Costacurta, plus the uncertain status of injured sweeper Franco Baresi, leaves Sacchi having to reorganize his defense at the worst possible time--with Brazilians Romario and Bebeto polishing their gun sights.

Chances are Sacchi will order his midfield to adopt a more conservative role, perhaps allowing only Demetrio Albertini the freedom to roam. That way, the midfielders can help the defense more and Italy can play a counter-attacking game.

Brazil, unfortunately, has shown it can overcome that strategy, even if it means winning by a single goal.

The key will be Roberto Baggio's presence and, if he is absent or hobbled by the injury, the showing of his expected replacement, Giuseppe Signori. The latter might yet have the chance to prove Sacchi wrong for playing him in midfield instead of up front where he belongs.

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