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   29 May, 2002 | 2010 IST



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Maldini eyes appearance record

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Italy captain Paolo Maldini is aiming to break the record for the most appearances World Cup games for two good reasons.

The record is currently held by German Lothar Matthaeus who played in 25 games at World Cup finals between 1982 and 1998, while Maldini has 19 appearances under his belt from the last three tournaments.

If the Italian left back features in seven games in Japan and South Korea - every match including the final - he will break Matthaeus's record.

Asked if he considered the milestone an important personal target Maldini said: "Yes, I think it is. Also because breaking it would also mean that Italy would have reached the final".

Matthaeus won the World Cup with West Germany in Italy 12 years ago but Maldini, Italy's most capped player of all time with 122 appearances, has yet to win a medal in the famous blue shirt of his country.

Maldini Although he could claim the record if Italy competed in the third-placed playoff, he is confident of going all the way, believing the defence he marshals is one of the best he has been part of.

"From 1988 until now I have always played in strong defences and I can't say which one is the best of all. But this defence is on a level with that of Milan in 1994 which never let in goals," Maldini said.

That Milan championship-winning side, featuring Franco Baresi, conceded just 15 goals in 34 Serie A matches during the 1993-94 season.

With Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta the other members of the current back line, Maldini says the debate over Italy's formation has little relevance for the tightness of the defence.

"At the moment whether we play with three or four at the back doesn't really make much difference," he told reporters.

But Maldini dismissed the suggestion that a switch to 4-4-2 would result in a more defensive Italy with less entertainment for World Cup fans and viewers.

"Who says that 4-4-2 is less entertaining than other systems? I have seen other sides who have played attractive football with that formation, for example Sven-Goran Eriksson's Lazio team," the Italy skipper said.

While clearly enjoying the build-up to the finals, Maldini also spared a thought for his Milan team mate Demetrio Albertini who was ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury.

"We miss Demetrio a lot, he is a player of great experience," Maldini said.

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