July 7, 2006

Italy hope for some luck to stop Zidane

By Andrew Gray

BERLIN (Reuters) - Italy will work hard to stop France's
Zinedine Zidane playing at his brilliant best in Sunday's World
Cup final but also need a little luck, Italian midfielder
Gennaro Gattuso said on Friday.

Playmaker Zidane appears in his last competitive match when
France take on Italy in Berlin's Olympiastadion at the climax
of the month-long tournament, before an expected television
audience of more than a billion people.

"He is one of the players who is worth the price of the
ticket to see," said Gattuso, whose tireless work and tenacious
tackling have put him among the best players at this World Cup.

The battle between Gattuso and Zidane will be one of the
key duels of the final as France aim to claim their second
World Cup title in eight years against three-times champions

But Gattuso said there was no way to shut the Frenchman out
of the game completely.

"You don't stop Zidane," he said.

"Maybe he stops himself if he is not in form. You have to
try to control him and if you want to limit his effect you need
a bit of luck and need to make the sign of the cross," he said.

"But he's 34 and playing in his last game. We have to hope
that on Sunday he doesn't have much petrol left in the engine."


On the eve of Sunday's final, hosts Germany take on
Portugal in the battle for third place in Stuttgart.

The Germans insist they still have plenty of motivation,
despite losing to the Italians late in extra time after riding
a wave of national euphoria to the semi-final.

"The team will really be focused for Saturday. We really
want to beat the Portuguese," said coach Juergen Klinsmann.

Oliver Kahn will take over in goal, reflecting Klinsmann's
appreciation for how the Bayern Munich keeper dealt with losing
his place in the first-choice team to Jens Lehmann.

"We have a lot to thank Oliver for at this World Cup,"
Klinsmann said. "He's been a great influence on the young
players and he's deserved a place in the team."

Germany will be without captain Michael Ballack, center
back Per Mertesacker and right back Arne Friedrich because of

The Germans received a boost on Friday, however, when
21-year-old striker Lukas Podolski -- scorer of three goals at
the World Cup -- was named young player of the tournament.

His strike partner Miroslav Klose is in pole position to
finish as the tournament's top scorer, with five goals to his
name already and the chance to add more against Portugal.

"Klose will definitely play from the start," Klinsmann
said. "I hope he gets a goal or two to make sure."

Portugal defender Miguel will miss the game due to a torn
ligament in his right knee, his club Valencia said.