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Inter 17:00 Empoli

INTER - KEY MAN - CHRISTIAN VIERI

By Peter O`Rourke.   Last Updated: 15/09/03 12:02pm

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CHRISTIAN VIERI is the jewel in the crown for both his club and his country and again will be central to Internazionale's hopes of going all the way in this season's Champions League.

The 30-year-old enjoyed a magnificent season last term, finishing as top scorer in Serie A, but surprisingly he struggled in the Champions League.

Vieri scored just three goals in Europe's premier competition as Inter made the semi-finals before losing to arch-rivals Milan.

The Italian star first tasted Champions League action in the 1996/1997 season, netting four goals as Juve reached the final, before losing to Borussia Dortmund.

Inter snapped him up in the summer of 1999 for a then world record fee of £32 million from Lazio, but, despite his goals, the Nerazzurri have failed to pick up any silverware.

Vieri, who also had a spell in Spain with Atletico Madrid, is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world and he will have more responsibility on his shoulders this year after the departure of Hernan Crespo.

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