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   June 4, 2002 | 2110 IST



France get the blues

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Ice-cool Vieri eyes Italian record

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Ice-cool Italy striker Christian Vieri has his eye on becoming his country's all-time top scorer in World Cup finals, but says his prolific form is no guarantee of success.

Vieri scored both goals in Italy's 2-0 win over Ecuador on Monday to take his scoring rate in the finals to seven goals in six games after his five-goal haul in France four years ago.

He is now just three goals away from surpassing the nine-goal record held jointly by Roberto Baggio and Paolo Rossi.

"If I do it then great but it means we have to move ahead in the competition. Hopefully, we will make it to the final and if I do it then all the better still," the burly forward said.

But Vieri said it would be wrong for too much emphasis to be placed on his contribution to what was a confident opening win for the Italians.

"We need a strong team - Vieri alone is not enough," he said before offering an apt reminder that there are many other factors that make up a successful team.

"This year I scored 22 goals for Inter Milan but we didn't win the championship," said the striker whose club side were pipped to the Italian title by Juventus on the final day of the season.

Vieri, a gruff character off the field, is a cool customer on it, rarely showing emotion even after his goals - behaviour that is somewhat puzzling for Italian fans, used to grand displays of affection.


But the striker said his restrained approach was simply his way of dealing with the pressure of the game.

"Anyone who knows me knows (what I am like). I take games calmly and I have my own way. I feel the games but I just remain calm," said the 28-year-old.

"Of course I am happy with my two goals but I am more happy that we won. If the team are strong then I score -- if not then I don't," he added.

Vieri combined well with Francesco Totti against Ecuador but coach Giovanni Trapattoni is considering recalling fit-again Filippo Inzaghi to the attack against Croatia on Saturday, allowing Totti to return to his favoured role behind the front two.

Vieri has little interest in debates over tactics but said such a switch would ensure he was never left isolated in attack.

"Francesco sometimes goes back and leaves me alone whereas with two strikers there would always be someone alongside me - that is the only difference," Vieri said.

Despite his iceman image Vieri has been one of the few Italian players to talk openly about the team's chances of winning their fourth World Cup, and he says there is no reason at all not to.

"We have to continue like this. Italy is a place where people should think we can win the World Cup - there is an expectation".

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