FIFA World Cup 2010 – Team Profile – Italy

Italy are the defending champions. Next to Brazil, they have the best record at the World Cup, having qualified for all but 2 of the 19, so far.

They went unbeaten in the qualifiers, winning seven and drawing three. They are expected to top group F, where they should have it relatively easy with only Paraguay likely to mount any kind of challenge to their supremacy. The others in the group are inexperienced New Zealand and Slovakia.

The experienced Fabio Cannavaro (130 caps) and legendary goalkeeper, Buffon, are among the stars that make Italy the formidable outfit they are. Among other players to watch are Gilardino, who top scored in the qualifiers, and midfielder, Gattuso, who has the talent to convert into a striker when his team requires.

Marcello Lippi, Italy’s coach, is confident that his team is the best in the world. In the last couple of decades, Italy have been accused of being defensive, and in a recent friendly against Cameroon, their failure to score underlined this.

Apart from his bluster, Lippi could also be faulted for ignoring striker Balotelli, who was on a goal scoring spree in 2009, for Inter Milan.

Italy are likely to face either Cameroon or Denmark, in the round of 16, and their entry into the quarter-final appears assured, where they are likely to face their first strong challenge, from favourites Spain. If they get past that hurdle, they are likely to run into Germany in the semi-final. This is the biggest stage of all – the World Cup. Can Italy retain their crown?

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