Odds on Italy to win Group D & World Cup – 13/8 looks value in tough group

The second most successful nation of all time head to the tournament confident they will top a tough looking group and at odds of 13/8 there are sure to be plenty of backers. 25/1 to win the tournament outright also looks more than a touch of value considering the pedigree of the Italians.

Manager: Cesare Prandelli
World Cup best:
Winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
How they qualified:
Winner European Group H

Italy qualified unbeaten from their European group, without ever really reaching top gear.

The Azzurri drew against the four sides directly below them, including an embarrassing 2-2 draw at home to Armenia.

They still secured qualification before the final group game, conceding the same as the likes of Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

Star player: Daniele De Rossi (Roma)

Andrea Pirlo has correctly received plaudits for his rejuvenation at Juventus, however Daniele De Rossi’s flexibility means he is even more key than Pirlo.

De Rossi featured in a back three for Italy as well as midfield during their impressive Euro 2012 campaign that saw them lose in the final.

The Roma legend has been fantastic this season for his club and expect him to play a big part in his countries World Cup.

One to watch: Ciro Immobile (Torino)

The Torino forward looks set to finish as Serie A’s top goalscorer this season, which may not even be enough to guarantee his place on the plane.

Ciro Immobile could be on his way to Borussia Dortmund, who are hopeful of securing a deal before the tournament, incase he continues his excellent form and the prize goes up!

Strengths

The way Italy kept the ball against England in Euro 2012 highlighted the gulf in technique between the two midfields.

Defensively strong too, they will field two or three Juventus defenders, who keep clean sheets for fun in Serie A.

Weaknesses

Marco Verratti may be used in the midfield (which is far from a weakness), to ensure they have some pace among their midfielders.

Pirlo has struggled in recent friendlies for the nation and has even been left out of some matches, although his Juve form has continued to be good.

How far can they go?

A lesson we’ve learnt from previous World Cup’s is never to write Italian national side off!

Cesare Prandelli has done a great job since taking over from Marcelo Lippi and you wouldn’t be shocked to see them still in the tournament come the final weeks.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Salvatore Sirigu, Mattia Perin

Defenders: Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Gabriel Paletta, Andrea Ranocchia, Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio, Christian Maggio, Matteo Darmian, Manuel Pasqual

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti, Riccardo Montolivo, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Candreva, Marco Parolo, Alberto Aquilani, Romulo

Forwards: Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano, Alessio Cerci, Ciro Immobile, Giuseppe Rossi, Mattia Destro, Lorzeno Insigne

* Squad will be cut by seven to 23 before the start of the tournament

Group D
Uruguay
Costa Rica
England
Italy

Fixtures

Saturday 14th June: England vs. Italy 23:00
Thursday 19th July: Uruguay vs. England 20:00
Tuesday 24th June: Costa Rica vs. England 17:00

Lewis Jones has over 5 years experience in web publishing, having worked at a number of well known UK facing sports websites. He can be reached at Google+ for more information.

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