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Bartra to fight for Barca place

By ESPN Staff

Gattuso out of Italy opener, maybe more

DUISBURG, Germany, June 7 (Reuters) - Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has been ruled out of the Azzurri's opening World Cup game against Ghana with a thigh injury and faces a race to be fit for the second match.

'Gattuso will miss one or two games,' Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci told Gazzetta dello Sport's website on Wednesday.

Castellacci said Gattuso would need 15 days to recover from the muscle strain that puts him at risk of missing Italy's second game in the group against the United States on June 17.

'I'm disappointed, missing two games is a lot for me,' said Gattuso, 'I'm not superstitious but I think someone has put a curse on me'.

'But I'm going to the World Cup even if I have to tie myself with a rope to the team bus,' he said.

Italy, who are due to arrive at their base in Germany later on Wednesday, have already ruled out fullback Gianluca Zambrotta for their opening Group E match on Monday with a thigh strain.

Fitness problems are already mounting for coach Marcello Lippi who also has concerns over central defender Alessandro Nesta after he aggravated an old adductor muscle injury.

Forward Francesco Totti has recovered from a serious ankle injury but is yet to gain full form after three months out.

Lippi said he had no plans to draft in a replacement for AC Milan's Gattuso who has been a regular in his side throughout the qualification campaign.

'I will replace him only on the field not in the squad. Gattuso stays with us and I hope he will recover as soon as possible,' said Lippi who has the option of using either Roma's Daniele De Rossi or Simone Perrotta to cover in midfield.

Italy also face Czech Republic in the group stage of the finals, which kick off on Friday.