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Italy's Coach Eager to Face Germany in World Cup Semifinal

Just hours to go for the Italian and German national soccer teams to face off against each other in the World Cup semifinal in Germany. Fans are getting ready for what they hope will be a great game of soccer.

The whole of Italy and Italian soccer fans all over the world are getting ready to watch this evening's semifinal match against Germany in Dortmund. Italian players say their coach, Marcello Lippi, is a real leader. They say he can't wait for the game to start and that he has poison in his body - meaning he wants to win at all costs.

"I'm glad my players feel this way," Lippi says, "because it is what I try to transmit to them when we work together. The coach said Germany has an excellent team with good players, which believes, like Italy, in the possibility of reaching the World Cup final and has the advantage of playing at home."

Lippi says Italy does not feel it is the favorite or the underdog.

Two of the most memorable games in Italy's history were played against Germany, the 4-3 extra time win over West Germany in the 1970 semifinals and the 3-1 victory in the 1982 final, Italy's last major title.

Lippi says that for some days he has not been thinking of 1970 and 1982. " I'm thinking of tonight," he says, "and what the best things to do are to try to win."

Many expect that a similar line-up to the one played against Australia, in which Italy won 1-0, would be in play this evening against Germany.

Meanwhile, German newspapers for days have been filled with criticism of Italians. But Lippi downplayed this.

He said if they continue calling us waiters, plate washers, beach lifeguards and other things, we need only be proud. He added that working, for the lucky ones that can, is something to be proud of.

Italy is feeling confident after it beat Germany 4-1 in the last friendly match played in Florence in March. But everyone here is only too aware Germany has never lost in its favorite stadium, in Dortmund.