Four-time winners Italy are looking strong in the lead-up to Brazil, with Cesare Prandelli’s side brimming with attacking potential, as well as retaining the strength in defence that rather defines them as a footballing nation.
Manager: Cesare Prandelli
Captain: Gianluigi Buffon
World Cup winners: 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
World Cup runners-up: 1970, 1994
Italy 2014 World Cup Preview:
The Azzurri will be desperate to put their poor 2010 experience behind them, and despite being placed in a strong Group D with England, Uruguay and Costa Rica, a repeat of their group stage exit in South Africa looks unlikely.
Runners up to Spain in the 2012 European Championships, Italy boast a well-balanced squad of future and established stars, with the commonly dismissed Serie A providing some of their most impressive players.
AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli will surely lead the line for the Italians in Brazil, and he will be backed up by the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile, who both had excellent seasons in the Italian top flight; while the wonderful Antonio Cassano is always worth a watch!
The spine of the team includes Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and long-serving captain Gianluigi Buffon; all of which have tremendous experience at this level, and will brilliantly complement the team’s younger stars in South America.
Italy are not considered to be one of the favourites for the tournament, and this could be to their advantage. Undefeated in qualifying, and understandably full of confidence ahead of the start of the tournament, Prandelli’s men could be the dark horses in South America.
Italy 2014 World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain), Mattia Perin (Genoa)
Defenders: Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorigo Chiellini (all Juventus), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio (both AC Milan), Matteo Darmian (Torino)
Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio (both Juventus), Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti (both Paris St Germain), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Marco Parolo (Parma), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
Key Player(s): Mario Balotelli
Italy 2014 World Cup Stats: