at Foxboro Stadium
Italy vs. Spain
* TIME: 9 a.m. PDT
* TV: ABC, Univision
* KEY MATCHUPS: Millions around the world will be watching the same thing as the Spaniards--Roberto Baggio's legs. Baggio, No. 10 and wearing the braided ponytail, carries most of Italy's hopes. Will he be the daring player who scored twice in the final 35 minutes of an overtime victory over Nigeria in the second round? Or will he be the disappearing player who has only those two goals in four games despite having taken 15 shots? With forward Giuseppe Signori benched after missing 14 shots, the entire Italian offense will finally revolve around Baggio. But Spain's Albert Ferrer and Abelardo Fernandez say they will be ready. They are two of the hardest hitting defenders in the tournament. Between them they have committed 20 fouls and have been assessed three yellow cards for bad behavior. They also have manned a unit that has allowed only one goal a game. Assisting them will be two of the best midfielders in the Cup, Juan Antonio Goikoetxea and Miguel Nadal. The Italians will counter with a defense led by AC Milan stars Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini. The best matchup will be in the style section. The Italians will be pretty, the Spaniards rough.
* OUTLOOK: Can this really be happening? Can the Italians, who have looked terrible in winning only two of their four games, really be headed back toward the final again? The Spaniards, undefeated in four World Cup games, one a tie with defending champion Germany, believe it is finally their turn for glory. They were nearly perfect against Switzerland and fully expected to be riding that emotion in a quarterfinal game against Nigeria. The last thing they wanted, or expected, to hear at Foxboro Stadium today was the Italian national anthem, and Italian players talking about destiny.
* OUTCOME: First, a secondary prediction. The winner of this game will play for the championship in the Rose Bowl. Germany, which probably will advance from the other quarterfinal in this bracket, will be no match for the skilled Italians or the determined Spaniards. So which will it be? For that answer, we'll look not at the statistics, but the calendar. The Spaniards have had six days of rest, the Italians three. In an emotional game between teams this close, an extra breath might be the difference. That noise you hear around noon today will be the good people of Barcelona, raising their roofs. Spain by a goal. In overtime, of course.