WORLD CUP: GROUP B

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ITALY

Previous appearances: 13 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994)

Honours: Winners 1934, 1938, 1982. Runners-up 1970, 1994

Record: P60, W35, D14, L11

1 Francesco Toldo Fiorentina

2 Giuseppe Bergomi Internazionale

3 Paolo Maldini Milan

4 Fabio Cannavaro Parma

5 Alessandro Costacurta Milan

6 Alessandro Nesta Lazio

7 Gianluca Pessotto Juventus

8 Moreno Torricelli Juventus

9 Demetrio Albertini Milan

10 Alessandro Del Piero Juventus

11 Dino Baggio Parma

12 Gianluca Pagliuca Internazionale

13 Alessandro Cois Fiorentina

14 Luigi Di Biagio Roma

15 Angelo Di Livio Juventus

16 Roberto Di Matteo Chelsea

17 Francesco Moriero Internazionale

18 Roberto Baggio Bologna

19 Filippo Inzaghi Juventus

20 Fabrizio Ravanelli Marseilles

21 Christian Vieri Atletico Madrid

22 Gianluigi Buffon Parma

Coach: Cesare Maldini

WATCH OUT FOR...

Almost all of the men who made their mark (by fair means or foul) on the 1982 World Cup have long since retired from playing: Paolo Rossi, Harald Schumacher, Michel Platini, Gerry Armstrong, Zico, Zbigniew Boniek, Bryan Robson and David Narey. Giuseppe Bergomi is still going strong, though. In '82, at the age of 18, he marked Karl-Heinz Rummenigge out of the match in Italy's 3-1 win over West Germany in the final in Madrid. Now, at the age of 34, the Internazionale stalwart has been recalled to the Azzurri squad after an absence of seven years. If he makes the starting line-up in France, it will complete one of international football's more stirring comebacks.

CHILE

Previous appearances: 6 (1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982)

Honours: Semi-finalists 1962 (3rd).

Record: P21, W7, D3, L11

1 Nelson Tapia Universidad Catolica

2 Cristian Castaneda Univ de Chile

3 Ronald Fuentes Univ de Chile

4 Francisco Rojas Colo Colo

5 Javier Margas Univ Catolica

6 Pedro Reyes Colo Colo

7 Nelson Parraguez Univ Catolica

8 Clarence Acuna Univ de Chile

9 Ivan Zamorano Inter

10 Jose Sierra Colo Colo

11 Marcelo Salas River Plate

12 Marcelo Ramirez Colo Colo

13 Manuel Neira Colo Colo

14 Miguel Ramirez Univ Catolica

15 Moises Villarroel Wanderers

16 Mauricio Aros Univ de Chile

17 Marcelo Vega NY/NJ Metrostars

18 Luis Musrri Univ de Chile

19 Fernando Cornejo Univ Catolica

20 Fabian Estay Toluca

21 Rodrigo Barrera Univ de Chile

22 Carlos Tejas Coquimbo

Coach: Nelson Acosta

WATCH OUT FOR...

Chile's two strikers are so good that, with one or two exceptions like the stopper Javier Margas and the playmaker Jose Luis Sierra, the rest of the side struggle to match the same standards. Internazionale's Ivan Zamorano is fit and scoring for club and country again after a recurring calf muscle injury, while alongside him at the finals will be Marcelo Salas. The 22-year-old's sensational first goal in February's 2-0 friendly win over England at Wembley brought his talents to the attention of the world. His tally of 11 goals in the qualifiers, including hat-tricks against both Colombia and Peru, had already done the same in South America.

CAMEROON

Previous appearances: 3 (1982, 1990, 1994)

Honours: None

Record: P11, W3, D4, L4

1 Jacques Songo'o La Coruna

2 Joseph Elanga Tonnerre Yaounde

3 Pierre Wome Nlend Lucchese

4 Rigobert Song Bahanag Metz

5 Raymond Kalla Nkongo Panahaiki

6 Pierre Njanka Olympique Mvolye

7 Francois Omam Biyik Sampdoria

8 Didier Angibeaud Nguijol Nice

9 Alphonse Tchami Hertha Berlin

10 Patrick Mboma Gamba Osaka

11 Samuel Eto'o Leganes

12 Lavriano Etame Nice

13 Serge Kwetche Racing Bafoussam

14 Augustine Simo St Etienne

15 Joseph Ndo Cotonsport Garoua

16 William Andem Boavista

17 Michel Pensee Billong Ihlwa Chunma

18 Samuel Ipoua Rapid Vienna

19 Marcel Mahouve Montpellier

20 Salomon Olembe Nantes

21 Joseph-Desire Job Lyon

22 Alioum Boukar Vanspor

Coach: Claude Leroy

WATCH OUT FOR...

At the World Cup four years ago, playing against Brazil at the age of 17, Rigobert Song became the youngest player to be sent off at any finals. Now, despite his youth, he is an adventurous and athletic central defender, quick in the tackle and eager to surge forward in support of the attack. He has had a great season in the French League with Metz. Song modelled his game on the great Dutchman, Ronald Koeman. "I watched hours of television just to work out how he played. People in my neighbourhood called me Koeman and I did everything to imitate his style," he has said. "I would spend so long practising long-range shots I could scarcely walk afterwards."

AUSTRIA

Previous appearances: 6 (1934, 1954, 1958, 1978, 1982, 1990)

Honours: Semi-finalists 1934 (4th); 1954 (3rd)

Record: P26, W12, D2, L12

1 Michael Konsel Roma

2 Markus Schopp Sturm Graz

3 Peter Schottel Rapid Vienna

4 Anton Pfeffer Austria Vienna

5 Wolfgang Feiersinger Dortmund

6 Walter Kogler Cannes

7 Mario Haas Sturm Graz

8 Heimo Pfeifenberger Bremen

9 Ivica Vastic Sturm Graz

10 Andreas Herzog Bremen

11 Martin Amerhauser SV Salzburg

12 Martin Hiden Leeds Utd

13 Harald Cerny 1860 Munich

14 Hannes Reinmayr Sturm Graz

15 Arnold Wetl Rapid Vienna

16 Franz Wohlfahrt VfB Stuttgart

17 Roman Mahlich Sturm Graz

18 Peter Stoger Linz ASK

19 Anton Polster Cologne

20 Andreas Heraf Rapid Vienna

21 Wolfgang Knaller Austria Vienna

22 Dietmar Kuhbauer Real Sociedad

Coach: Herbert Prohaska

WATCH OUT FOR...

When Anton Polster was trying to make his name as an international a decade ago, his name was often greeted with abuse and jeers when the team was announced. Inconsistency which often looked like laziness and an outspoken nature did not endear him to Austria's fans. Now, though, he is his country's record scorer with 43 goals, and he has finally silenced his critics at home. In 10 years playing his club football abroad, he has again not always found success - but he has scored 282 league goals, more than any other top division player still active. Now 34, France 98 will be his last chance to make his mark at the very top level.

THE Italians must have thought it was their lucky year when the first-round draw was made. After all the aggravation of the qualifying campaign, against England and then Russia, they found themselves with what looked like a straightforward passage to the second round.

However, Cesare Maldini's men would do well to remember what happened when they took it easy at Euro 96: a defeat to the Czech Republic. The other three sides in the section are all dangerous on their day, and it is conceivable that the Italians could be flying home early and facing another barrage of rotten tomatoes. Unlikely, though.

The Chileans are the most likely opponents to do some damage to Italy. Their striking pair, Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano, will have few equals at the tournament, and Jose Luis Sierra is a playmaker with genuine flair, although a little on the slow side. If the excellent Javier Margas can hold the defence together, they should progress, along with Italy.

The current Cameroon team have shown few signs of being able to emulate the efforts of their 1990 side, but a 2-1 win in a friendly in Denmark last Friday was encouraging. Their experienced French coach, Claude Le Roy, has abandoned some regulars from the qualifying campaign and brought in several little-known newcomers, but the players he will be relying on most of all are a veteran from 1990, the tall centre-forward Francois Omam-Biyick, and two defenders back for their second World Cup, Rigobert Song and Raymond Kalla.

The Austrians could well finish bottom. Apart from the experienced Anton Polster up front and the clever Andreas Herzog in midfield, their team has a thoroughly mediocre look. Wolfgang Feiersinger has had a good season in defence for Borussia Dortmund, but he will not be able to hold the fort alone.

As for the Italians, only their own mental frailty is likely to prevent them going a long way in the tournament. From Paolo Maldini at the back through Roberto Di Matteo in midfield to Alessandro Del Piero in attack, the team oozes class.

Christian Vieri is a formidable centre-forward while Francesco Moriero has broken into the team as a goalscoring winger. But one player, above all, will be the centre of attention if he secures a place in the starting line-up: Roberto Baggio, back from international exile. Whether Maldini trusts him to participate in a penalty shoot-out if Italy make it to the knock-out stages, though, remains to be seen.

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