Defending World Cup champions Italy
Italy are the defending champions of the FIFA World Cup, and will be looking to win successive competitions in South Africa 2010. Many experts believe that their triumph four years ago in Germany can be attributed to the fact that many of their best players were reaching their peak. However, their squad for the 2010 competition is remarkably similar to the one that was successful last time around, therefore the ageing nature of the team could come unstuck against the youthful energy of teams like Brazil, France, Spain, and England.
Italy are actually the only country to have won the World Cup twice in succession, and Marcello Lippi leading his team to glory in South Africa would certainly be a historic feat, so they are a popular bet amongst bookmakers. The age of many squad members didn’t show in qualifying, in what became a relatively straightforward campaign for the current champions. They finished Group 8 with seven wins and three draws, and scored 18 goals in total, conceding only seven.
So, who is likely to feature considerably in the team for South Africa? Well Gianluigi Buffon, the goalkeeper and stalwart will be relied on this summer, and his presence, influence, and keen eye for the international game will be indispensable to the Italian’s performance. Elsewhere, Fabio Cannavaro, despite being 36 years old now, is still the team’s best defender, and as captain he will be essential in keeping out players such as Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, and Robinho, should Italy progress. The team have been handed perhaps the simplest group in the first stage, and they will face Paraguay, minnows New Zealand, and Slovakia in South Africa, and anything less than nine points will be considered a failure.