Italy are in good shape going into the World Cup and worth a bet.
We may not be as well-rated as Spain and Germany but we have many attributes. The first is our manager Cesare Prandelli, one of the best around. He managed successfully Fiorentina, never an easy job, before becoming coach of the Azzurri. Tactically astute, diplomatic and good with the media and fans, he is doing a good job. The spine of the side is Buffon in goal, di Rossi and Pirlo in midfield, who all played in the 2006 winning side. The Juventus trio of Chellini, Barsaglio and Barruci will form the defence, Marchisio will supply the legs in midfield and score the odd goal, with Balotelli and our Guiseppe Rossi up front. It’s a capable team and my only concern is its age in sapping conditions.
Traditionally, Italy do not start well. Remember in 1982, they drew all three group games and the nation was in uproar not least against another Rossi. They beat Brazil in the quarter finals and Paolo Rossi ended with 6 goals and the Azzurri with the World Cup. Brazil were probably the best team, but best teams do not ways win the trophies.
Now for some players in Serie a you may not know but who, in my opinion, will make an impact. One is our own Juan Caudrado, an amazing dribbler with a fierce shot, who has a spectacular goal in him. Another is the Bosnian Pjanic who plays for Roma, a lovely skilful midfielder. With Dzeko up front, Bosnia might surprise a few. Another is Juve’s Artur Vidal who plays for Chile. Much as it pains me to praise a Juve player, he is one of the best midfielders around.