Injured Vieri may miss Bulgaria match

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Centerforward Christian Vieri may miss Italy's final Euro 2004 Group C match against Bulgaria due to a left knee injury.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Guimaraes, Portugal:

Centerforward Christian Vieri was listed as a questionable starter for Italy's final Euro 2004 Group C match against Bulgaria later today due to a left knee injury. Vieri practiced on his own yesterday with a bandage wrapped around his knee and coach Giovanni Trapattoni said the team would not decide until hours before the game whether he plays or not. "We'll see how he feels, I'll talk with him and the doctors and then we'll decide," Trapattoni said. Italy must beat Bulgaria to have any chance of advancing into the quarterfinals. The Azzurri also have to hope for a favorable result in the Sweden-Denmark game, which will be played simultaneously in Porto. Midfielders Simone Perrotta (calf) and Cristiano Zanetti (groin) also practiced on the sidelines yesterday. "For Perrotta, it was just a precautionary measure, I'm sure he'll be fine," Trapattoni said. Zanetti missed Italy's 1-1 draw with Sweden on Friday due to his injury. If Vieri does not play, he is likely to be replaced by Lazio's Bernardo Corradi. Several other Italian players have already been ruled out for the Bulgaria game. Star playmaker Francesco Totti will be serving the second of a three-match ban for spitting at a Danish opponent in the team's Euro 2004 opener, a 0-0 draw. Captain and defender Fabio Cannavaro and midfielder Gennaro Gattuso are disqualified for picking up two yellow cards in Italy's first two matches. Gattuso returned to the team yesterday after making a 24-hour trip home to see his baby girl, who was born on June 20. With all the injuries and absences, Trapattoni did not release his lineup like he usually does a day before a match. If Sweden and Denmark draw 2-2 or higher, they will both advance, sending Italy home. If Italy wins and either team wins the other match, Italy will advance. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw between Denmark and Sweden coupled with a big enough Italian win would also qualify Italy. "We have to stop thinking about Sweden-Denmark," Trapattoni said, discouraging speculation of a Scandinavian conspiracy. Despite all the injuries and tension, there was a light atmosphere at the end of Italy's practice when the Bulgarian team came onto the field at Dom Henriques stadium for their final pre-match workout. Trapattoni gave a warm greeting to Hristo Stoichkov, Bulgaria's soccer legend and hero of the squad's 1994 World Cup campaign, which ended with a semifinal loss to Italy. Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was a teammate of Stoichkov's at Parma in 1995-96, also shared some words with the Bulgarian star. (AP)

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