2006 Champions Italy have been placed in a tough opening group for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil and that’s one of the reasons why Cesare Prandelli’s men are amongst the outsiders to lift the trophy. Currently, the Italians are quoted at 28/1 with BetVictor in the outright market but if they can progress from the so-called group of death, this exciting squad can give you some interest at that figure.
Prandelli’s men coasted through the qualifying stage without losing a game and their record over the course of ten matches could suggest that Italy may just be a little overpriced coming into this tournament.
Italy World Cup group
The toughest section of this summer’s World Cup sees the Italians drawn in group D alongside Uruguay, Costa Rica and England. They may be favourites to progress at a 7/4 price with Paddy Power but at least two of those fixtures will be crucial.
The match with Uruguay is perceived to be the hardest of the three but remember that Italy needed penalties to edge past England at Euro 2012. The Costa Rica tie should yield three points but qualification to the knockout phase is by no means guaranteed.
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At the age of 36, Italy’s veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon shows no signs of weakness and he will be the first name on Prandelli’s team sheet. He will need to stay fit however because he has dominated this position for so long and there is little in the way of experienced cover.
By comparison, the back four isn’t so settled and this is one area where the manager has occasionally struggled to name his best picks. There is a strong Juventus core with Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci so at least those three should be comfortable alongside each other.
If Italy are to progress in this tournament, much will depend on 34 year old Andrea Pirlo and his threat from set pieces. The Juve man has never been the paciest of players but speed isn’t a necessary quality in the heat of South America.
All of Italy’s creative play comes through Pirlo but he is well supported by established players including Riccardo Montolivo, Claudio Marchisio and the exciting Thiaggo Motta. This is a centre line that has a perfect balance between strength and creativity and it will be an exciting one to watch in 2014.
Prandelli named no less than six centre forwards for the friendly with Spain in March 2014 and the coach still seems unsure as to what his best front line will be. Of those six names, Alberto Gilardino has the best record but 19 goals in 57 international appearances is hardly prolific.
Many will be hoping that the manager recalls Mario Balotelli who has enjoyed his first full season with AC Milan – scoring 18 times in 39 appearances. A return for Giuseppe Rossi could also be on the cards as the Fiorentina man starts to get back to his best form after a long term injury.
Italy to win World Cup 2014
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This Italian side will doubtless be tough at the back but this could prove to be a high scoring tournament and those issues up front suggest that Prandelli’s men are unlikely to repeat their success of 2006.
Italy will surely qualify from the group phase but as an ageing team without a cutting edge, it’s tough to see them progressing beyond the quarter finals. Away from those outright win odds of 28/1, you can back Italy at 12/1 with BetVictor or 5/1 with BetVictor again to progress to the semis. However, the make up of this side in testing South American conditions suggest that you should look elsewhere.