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Football: Friendly Matches Ahead of World Cup


Teams continue their preparations Tuesday and Wednesday for this year's World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan with 30 of the 32 teams playing international friendly matches.

Tuesday, South Korea takes on Turkey while Paraguay plays former Olympic champions Nigeria.

On Wednesday, injuries could keep several stars off the field, including Robert Pires of France, who suffered a knee injury last Saturday and will be off the field for several months. France takes on Scotland at the Stade de France outside Paris.

Meanwhile, England takes on Italy at Elland Road in England Wednesday with both teams missing star players. England's Steven Gerrard and Italy's Alessandro Del Piero and Paolo Maldini are nursing injuries.

Injuries could also affect the outcome of the U.S. team's friendly against Germany, with almost all of Germany's starters battling injuries. Alexander Zickler of Germany could miss the world Cup with a calf muscle injury.

Also Wednesday, Brazil takes on Yugoslavia with Brazilian Rivaldo out with an injury but Ronaldo possibly returning to the South American's lineup after a two-year struggle with knee trouble.

Argentina meets Cameroon for the first time since the Africans eliminated the reigning champion Argentines in the first round of the 1990 World Cup. Wednesday's match is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Other matches have Russia taking on Estonia in Tallinn, Greece hosts Belgium, Denmark visits the Republic of Ireland, and the Netherlands host Spain. Poland takes on Japan in Lodz, while Sweden hosts Switzerland in Malmo.

Tunisia plays non-qualifier Norway without a coach after former France and Cameroon coach Henri Michel walked away from the Africans Monday. Ecuador takes on Bulgaria at Giants' Stadium in New Jersey.

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