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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Del Piero set to miss out
Allessandro Del Piero
Del Piero will miss out on starting against Ecuador
Alessandro del Piero looks set to miss out on a starting place in Italy's first World Cup match against Ecuador on Monday.

The Italian coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, appears to have settled for a 4-4-2 formation for the tournament with Francesco Totti playing up front instead of his regular playmaking role.

And that could mean that Del Piero misses out on a starting place as Trapattoni is likely to prefer Christian Vieri alongside Totti up front.

Open Quote
We are doing well - we are all used to playing with a four man defence
Close Quote
Fabio Cannavaro
The Italy coach fielded Totti as an out-and-out striker in Thursday's practice match against local side Vegalta Sendai.

Italy won the practice match 4-0 with Totti and Christian Vieri scoring two goals each.

Trapattoni said: "The team for the first game could be this one. I have seen the latest step forwards".

Italy played with a three-man defence throughout qualification but in recent friendlies, Trapattoni has opted for four in defence with Christian Panucci included at right-back.

As well as Panucci the other player to benefit from Trapattoni's tactical change of heart is Cristiano Doni who played on the left flank against Vegalta.

The new formation will be a bitter disappointment for Del Piero, who is determined to make up for a disappointing World Cup in France four years ago.

Trapattoni's decision to change his approach on the eve of the finals in South Korea and Japan is a surprise given that Italy were unbeaten in qualification.

Francesco Totti
Totti scored twice in his new role up front
But defender Fabio Cannavaro said the late switch was no problem as the players were used to playing in diverse formations in Serie A.

"We are doing well, we are working with this new system but we are all used to playing with a four man defence," said Cannavaro.

"The truth is it gives us another man in midfield to calm us down.

"The problem is that when we play teams with just one striker it is pointless to have three men kept at the back."

"Maybe with four defenders we actually work more," he added.


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GROUP G
  P GD PTS
MEXICO 3 +2 7
ITALY 3 +1 4
CROATIA 3 -1 3
ECUADOR 3 -2 3




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