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COVERCIANO, Italy, May 13 (AFP)- Italy's World Cup squad began preparing Monday for their World Cup campaign at their training base here near Florence.

Giovanni Trapattoni and his players had checked into their rooms by midnight Sunday although players with Juventus and Parma - who disputed the Italian Cup Final last Friday - do not have to arrive until midnight Monday.

Monday morning's session was a light one in the tranquil surroundings of the base with players jogging around the running track but not until after the 63-year-old coach had gathered his players into a circle for a pep-talk.

However, AS Roma skipper Francesco Totti - whom Trapattoni has identified as his key player - underwent physiotherapy on the injury that limited his participation in the closing stages of the
Italian first division season while his colleagues jogged.

Club rivalries were forgotten with AC Milan's Gennaro Gattuso and Inter Milan's Luigi Di Biagio laughing and joking together while Trapattoni himself seemed on good form, laughing and shaking hands with journalists.

The players have only four full days here before they travel to Prague Friday for Saturday's friendly with the Czech Republic.

On Tuesday May 21 they will hold a public training session at Rome's Stadio Flaminio before flying out to Japan where they will be bidding to equal Brazil's record of four World Cups.

A small group of fans outside the iron gates reserved a special cheer for Angelo Di Livio, the only Fiorentina player in the 23-man squad.

Trapattoni and his men were getting their first taste of World Cup fever with camera crews and journalists thronging the perimeter of the pitch and present in the lobbies.

World Cup heroes of the past were also present including Luigi 'Gigi' Riva, the striker who won the Scudetto with Cagliari in 1969-70 and featured in the Italy squad that finished runners-up to Pele's Brazil in Mexico.

Riva now works as a conduit between the players and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

Trapattoni and his players were due to meet the press later Monday.


18 days to go, and the countdown starts here :cool:

Forza Italia :)
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