COACH – Cesare Prandelli
BEST SHOWING – Winners 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
QUALIFICATION – Winner of UEFA Qualifying Group B
June 14th – England (2300 BST, Manaus, BBC)
June 20th – Costa Rica (1700 BST, Recife, BBC)
June 24th – Uruguay (1700 BST, Natal, ITV)


Button Uruguay Button England Button Costa Rica


A fairly pedestrian qualifying campaign saw Italy secure their place in Brazil fairly easily, their nearest challengers Denmark finishing six points behind the Italians.

A poor season for Italian clubs in European competition sees Cesare Prandelli’s men come into Brazil under the radar and the defensive staunchness once associated with the Italians hasn’t been evident, with just three clean sheets kept in qualifying.

Prandelli will stick with the 4-3-1-2 formation and the ageless Gianluigi Buffon will play in goal.

Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci could pair up at the heart of the Italian defence with Ignazio Abate the possible right back, with Mattia De Sciglio an option on the other flank.

Andrea Pirlo will play in a deep lying midfield role and will look to dictate the tempo of the game, keep possession and link defence to attack, something he’s struggled at a little bit in recent friendlies.

Daniele De Rossi, Alberto Aquilani and Claudio Marchisio are among the options of those who could play alongside him, with the inconsistent Riccardo Montolivo further up.

Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli are the preferred partnership up front but with Rossi’s injury woes, the fiery Antonio Cassano could be the one who steps into the breach.

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05 WORLD CUP PIRLOHe may have just celebrated his 35th birthday but Pirlo is the man who makes Italy tick. His ability to dictate the tempo of a game and his range and accuracy of passes makes him a tricky customer to deal with.

His set piece delivery can also be very dangerous to deal with but he does have his weaknesses. He’s not the greatest tackler and on the rare occasions he is dispossessed, he can struggle to win possession back.

What he does offer though is incredible vision and a vast array of passing. If Pirlo is allowed to control the tempo and dictate the midfield battle Italy become a lot more dangerous.


Despite reaching the final of Euro 2012, Italy’s chances of making it number five aren’t really being talked up. They’re in that second tier behind the favourites of sides people think could go far but don’t think they can win it.

Italy aren’t the side they were in 2006. The Italian way of controlling possession with a thoughtful patient approach has been countered in recent times by teams who play more of a faster, in-your-face pressing game.

The defensive tightness Italy have been renowned for isn’t there anymore either, just two clean sheets have been kept by the Italians in the last ten international matches.

Prandelli does command the respect of his players and will have a plan for every opponent. The possession approach could work wonders in the humidity of Manaus against England and he’ll be looking for a Plan B if the cagey approach doesn’t work.

It’d be foolish to write off the Italians but it’d be a very special tournament for them to lift the Jules Rimet trophy again.

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A tricky group that they’re favourites to advance from but I can’t see them advancing past the last eight.

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Paolo Mal-Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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