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TODAY

SITE: Lyon

TIME: noon TV: Chs. 7, 34.

* ABOUT GERMANY: Uncomplicated victories over the United States and Iran have been paired with come-from-behind efforts against Yugoslavia (to tie) and Mexico (to win), so no one is sure what the true potential of Coach Berti Vogts’ team really is. Strikers Juergen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff are in top form, but the rest of the team is inconsistent, especially goalkeeper Andreas Kopke. “We know from Euro ’96 that they are unpleasant opponents,” Bierhoff said. “It’s going to be aggressive and tough. We are going to have to lift our form.”

* ABOUT CROATIA: The other seven quarterfinalists have each won a world or a continental championship, but Croatia is the odd country out. Some consider its appearance in the final eight at France 98 a surprise, but the Croatians have always shown the potential to compete at the highest level. “Before this, maybe 5% of the world’s population had heard about Croatia, and now it is up to 15%,” Coach Miroslav Blazevic said after his team had beaten Romania in the second round. Sweeper Zvonimir Soldo returns from a one-game suspension, but Robert Prosinecki is doubtful because of a thigh strain.

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* OUTLOOK: Croatia lost to Germany, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the 1996 European Championship but expects to do better this time around. “Everybody is treating us as debutantes who have fulfilled their ambition by making it to the quarterfinals,” defender Slaven Bilic said. “But we are not satisfied with what we’ve done so far. We know that we have a big chance to make it through to the semifinals.” Maybe, but it will take a sizable upset.


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