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TODAY’S GAMES

GROUP B: Italy vs. Chile

SITE: Bordeaux

TIME: 8:30 a.m. TV: ESPN, Ch. 34

* ABOUT ITALY: Injury and illness are causing the Azzuri serious last-minute problems. Striker Fabrizio Ravanelli, who has bronchitis, was dropped from the squad Wednesday after doctors determined he needed five or six days of rest. His replacement will be Enrico Chiesa of Parma. Striker Alessandro Del Piero will sit out the game because of a pulled leg muscle and will be replaced by veteran Roberto Baggio. Defender Moreno Torricelli injured his right ankle in a match last week and also won’t play.

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* ABOUT CHILE: Chile hasn’t won a game in the finals since it was host of the tournament in 1962. That includes appearances in 1966, 1974 and 1982. However, a 3-0 victory over Paraguay in their last qualification game and a 2-0 victory over England in February at Wembley have given the Chileans confidence. They have two effective strikers in Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas, a duo that has been dubbed “Za-sa” by the Chilean media. “I sincerely believe we could cause an upset tomorrow,” midfielder Fabian Estay said.

* OUTLOOK: Look for Italy to revert to its old catenaccio (defensive) style. It will undoubtedly try to hold on through the first half and pray for a goal off a counterattack. Salas, who has speed, poise and superb finishing skills, will be the key. Coach Nelson Acosta, on the job barely two years, has developed the reputation of getting a lot out of so-so teams. With Italy hurting, he and Chile have a chance to get a lot out of this game.

GROUP B: Cameroon vs. Austria

SITE: Toulouse

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TIME: Noon. TV: ESPN2, Ch. 34

* ABOUT CAMEROON: The “Indomitable Lions” conjure up grand images. And they have a fine history, having been the first African country to reach the quarterfinals, in 1990. But they were 0-3 in the 1994 World Cup and have struggled to rebuild. They have a solid goalkeeper in Jacques Songo’o, who plays for Deportivo in Spain, and good forwards in striker Patrick Mboma, who led the team in qualifying with five goals, and Samuel Ipoua, who plays for Rapid Vienna of Austria. Coach Jean-Manga Onguene was replaced by Claude LeRoy in the months leading up to the tournament.

* ABOUT AUSTRIA: Austria won a tough qualifying group with an 8-1-1 record and 17 goals (with only four against). It has a world-class midfielder in Andreas Herzog, who plays for Werder Bremen in Germany, and a strong finisher in striker Toni Polster, who had seven goals in qualifying play. Goalkeeper Michael Konsel is reliable, but the defense is iffy.

* OUTLOOK: Austria has always been overshadowed by neighboring Germany, but the Austrians appear capable of earning their own glory. Coach Herbert Prohaska’s team isn’t fancy and might be a bit old, but it gets the job done.

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