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Tuesday 21st May 2002

AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi has predicted he will become one of the leading figures at the World Cup by shooting Italy to victory. "I believe this will be my tournament. I'm the right age and have a lot of experience," he reasoned.

Giovanni Trapattoni looks set to partner Inzaghi with Internazionale frontman Christian Vieri in Italy's opening game against Ecuador.

"I have dreamt about this moment since I was a baby. I have always wanted to do something important with Italy, it's an honour just to wear the shirt," said the former Juventus star.

At one stage, Inzaghi looked set to miss the tournament altogether, as he sat out several months of the Serie A campaign through injury. Now he believes this may work to his benefit, as he will be fresher than other members of the squad.

"I missed a lot of games, but I've had time to rest and recover. Now I'm at the very peak of my fitness and I hope that will last until June 30 [the date of the World Cup final], if Italy last with me.

"I have scored a lot of goals under Trapattoni and Italy are really maturing as a group. Of course we have to win our group first, then we will think about other opponents.

"But I would especially like to get my revenge on France after they knocked us out of the 1998 World Cup and beat us in the final of the 2000 European Championships."

Inzaghi believes Francesco Totti will also be influential for Italy this summer. The Roma captain missed Italy's 1-0 defeat to the Czech Republic and Trapattoni's team looked lost without him.

"It's logical that we should miss him. We are used to having a player like Francesco in the last third. Maybe Cristiano Doni of Atalanta could replace him. But Francesco is our champion, our destiny depends on him," said Inzaghi.

Italy are in World Cup Group G with Ecuador, Mexico and Croatia.
 
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