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ROBERTO BAGGIO

NICKNAME:  Divine Ponytail
BORN:  FEB. 18, 1967
COUNTRY: Italy
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES:  3 tournaments ('90, '94, '98)
CLUBS: Fiorentina, Juventus, Milan, Bologna, Internazionale

INTRODUCTION: One of the greatest stars of the past three World Cups. 

1990 World Cup - Italy
STUNNING 
Baggio's stunning goal against Czekoslovakia in his stunning debut.
Baggio made a stunning World Cup debut against Czekoslovakia in the Italia '90, scoring an astonishing solo goal which started with a run from the halfway-line.  He established a successful striking partnership with Schillaci untilthe semi-finals against Argentina.  Then coach Vicini's move to start Vialli ahead of Baggio backfired and Italy went down to the South Americans in the penalty shoot-out.  Baggio always preferred to play in midfield just behind the two strikers but was usually used in the national team as a second striker.

1994 World Cup - USA
Four years later, like Rossi in 1982, he played poorly in the first round. But in the second round, he saved Italy from the edge of elimination with dramatic late goals.  Against Nigeria, Italy was trailing 1-0 until Baggio equalized in the 88th minute.  In extra-time, he scored a game-winning penalty.  Against Spain, the Italians looked tired and dead.  Italy would surely lose if the game go into extra-time.  But Baggio, again amazingly, scored another late goal that led Italy into the semi-finals.

PENALTY MISS
Baggio missed the crucial penalty in the shoot-out against Brazil in the 1994 Final.
Then in the semi-finals against Bulgaria, Baggio came to the rescue again.  He scored with two absolutely outstanding strikes in Italy's 2-1 victory.  Not fully fit, he was still selected against Brazil in the Final where he, of all people, missed the crucial penalty in the shoot-out.
1998 World Cup - France
Baggio's international career went into a decline after the USA World Cup.  Sacchi didn't even pick him for the 1996 European Championship squad.  But a move from Milan to Bologna revived Baggio's fortune.  New coach Cesare Maldini chose him for the '98 World Cup squad almost at the last minute.  Still, "New Baggio" Del Piero was preferred and the "original" Baggio only regained his first-team status with an injury to Del Piero.   At the age of 31, Baggio had a good tournament, scoring 2 goals and setting up another two.  Italy's defeat by France prompted many to blame Maldini's preference of a off-form Del Piero to Baggio.  Roberto came on as a substitute in extra-time and almost broke the deadlock.  He also took one of the penalties, this time successfully, in the shoot-out defeat, their third in consecutive World Cups.

HIS GOALS IN THE WORLD CUP - COMPLETE RECORD
1990
1st round: 3rd match v. Czechoslovakia
3rd place play-off v. England
1994
2nd round v. Nigeria (2)
quarter-final v. Spain
semi-final v. Bulgaria (2)
1998
1st round: 1st match v. Chile (pen)
1st round: 3rd match v. Austria
 


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