Football: The Key Confrontations

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The Independent Online
Sol Campbell Gianfranco Zola

Tottenham Chelsea

age: 23 31

caps: 10 34

Glenn Hoddle will not be man-marking Zola but Campbell is likely to find himself picking up the Sardinian whenever he moves forward. Zola's greatest strengths are his movement and close control. Campbell, who has become an international defender of stature in the past year, should be equal to the control but may be lost by the movement. The experience of Tony Adams may then be needed.

After being partly at fault for Zola's Wembley goal, Campbell has something to prove and, like most English players, he now knows something of Zola's tricks. Only real concern is occasional tendancy to have an off-day, as recently against Emile Heskey.

David Beckham Paolo Maldini

Man Utd Milan 22 29

10 82

A further chance to assess Beckham's development as he comes up against the world's greatest left-back. At Wembley in February Beckham had little joy on the flank and Maldini, if he plays there, is unlikely to let him get past on the outside on Saturday. Early crosses may be in order for Beckham though club team-mate Karel Poborsky, who gave Maldini a rare roasting in Euro '96, may have give him some tips. One of Beckham's main tasks will be defensive as Maldini is a potent force when moving forward. At set-pieces, however, someone else should be deputed to jump with Maldini who is a powerful header. As the Italy manager's son, Maldini will be more motivated than anyone.

Paul Gascoigne Paul Ince Demetrio Dino Albertini Baggio

Rangers Liverpool Milan Parma 30 29 26 26

52 33 46 4

The key battle, with temperament as much a factor as ability. Both pairs have plenty of the latter, Gascoigne and Ince perhaps a better balanced partnership. The Englishmen will be highly motivated on their return to Italy and will need to keep calm against the inevitable tugs and niggles, especially Gascoigne. Albertini likes to sit and spray the ball like a quarter-back so Sheringham and Wright may be asked to make him hurry, if so he is likely to settle for unspectacular ticking-over passing rather than risk losing possession. Baggio is more of a ball-winner, like David Batty, who will make up England's central midfield. With Roberto Di Matteo's ability to attack with the ball denied to Italy by suspension, Attilio Lombardo may complete their middle trio.

Ian Wright Arsenal 33, 28

Fabio Cannavaro Parma 24, 9

Cannavaro marked Shearer out of the game at Wembley in an impressive international debut. He has retained his place since and his pace is likely to see him give the job of marking Wright while Costacurta sweeps. Wright knows his international career will be over if England fail to make the World Cup finals which would be unfortunate after such an impressive late international blossoming.

Recent History Of England v Italy

24.5.61 (Rome)

Italy 2 England 3

14.6.73 (Turin)

Italy 2 England 0

14.11.73 (Wembley)

England 0 Italy 1

28.5.76 (New York)

England 3 Italy 2

17.11.76 (Rome, World Cup qualifier)

Italy 2 England 0

16.11.77 (Wembley, World Cup qualifier)

England 2 Italy 0

15.6.80 (Turin, European Championships)

Italy 1 England 0

6.6.85 (Mexico City)

England 1 Italy 2

15.11.89 (Wembley)

England 0 Italy 0

7.7.90 (Bari, World Cup finals third-place play-off)

Italy 2 England 1

12.2.97 (Wembley, World Cup qualifier)

England 0 Italy 1

4.6.97 (Nantes, Le Tournoi)

England 2 Italy 0