WORLD CUP '90 : Czechs Next Hurdle for West Germans : Quarterfinals: Both sides have high-scoring offenses. Beckenbauer predicts victory in today's matchup.


Castle Caseglia is a 13th-Century fortress near Lake Como in the Lombardy region of Italy that was built as protection against Germany's Frederick the Great.

In recent weeks, it has served as shelter for another imposing invader from the north, West Germany's soccer team.

Except for a lapse of concentration in a 1-1 first-round tie against Colombia, a game that was significant only for the Colombians, the West Germans have been one of the World Cup's two most impressive teams.

The other is Italy. All but ignoring today's quarterfinal game here at Giuseppi Meazza Stadium against Czechoslovakia, West German Coach Franz Beckenbauer boldly predicted last week that his team will meet the Italians in the July 8 final in Rome.

It could be a perfect match of strength against strength. While Italy has dominated with its defense, having given up no goals in five games. West Germany has been overpowering with its offense.

In a tournament that has produced an average of 2.27 goals a game, the West Germans have averaged three goals a game. Their 12 goals lead the tournament.

Although the Czechs have not received as much attention as the Germans, they have quietly unleashed an attack that is almost as potent with 10 goals.

They also have the tournament's leading scorer, striker Tomas Skuhravy, who has five goals. For that, his teammates have nicknamed him "Rambo."

His bank account also more closely resembles Sylvester Stallone's than it did before the tournament. He became Czechoslovakia's first million-dollar player last week by signing a contract with an Italian League team in Genoa.

The West Germans are more balanced in both Italian League millionaires and scorers. Forwards Rudi Voeller of AC Roma and Juergen Klinsmann of Inter-Milan each have three goals, and midfielder Lothar Matthaeus of Inter-Milan has two.

Together, the West Germans and Czechs have scored 22 goals, the same as the other six quarterfinalists combined scored in the first and second rounds.

That, however, does not necessarily guarantee that today's game will be high scoring. When these teams met the last week of May in an exhibition game, the West Germans won, 1-0.

The intensity of the World Cup playoffs also is such that every goal is precious. Teams that score first often tend to collapse into defensive shells to protect leads.

There also is the possibility that the Czechs are not as overpowering as their results indicate. They scored nine goals against two teams, the United States and Costa Rica, that are from the world's least-respected region. Skuhravy scored all of his goals in those games.

In games against better teams, Italy and Austria, the Czechs had more difficulty finding the net. They beat Austria, 1-0, and lost to Italy, 2-0.

The West Germans will play today without Voeller, who received an automatic one-game suspension along with the red card he was handed in the 2-1 second-round victory over the Netherlands.

However, the West German depth is evident. Beckenbauer is expected to replace Voeller with Karl Heinz Riedle of Werder Bremen, the leading scorer in this year's European Union of Assn. Football Cup. No wonder the West German coach seems confident.

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