Gianluigi Buffon admits that Italy may not be outright favourites to win the World Cup, but sees them capable of causing a few headaches.
The Azzurri today begin training in preparation for the summer tournament, which their captain and 139-cap veteran believes they can carry optimism into, even if tempered with a bit of reality.
“This is an Italy that certainly will not start on the front row, but perhaps in the second row, yes,” Buffon has explained this week to Sky Sport Italia.
“In the second to third group we are there, because we have deserved it, because at the last two international competitions we have been at we have two medals - a silver at the European Championships and a bronze at the Confederation Cup.
“It signifies something good and that we are on a rising path. And we hope that we can reach the climax of this journey at the World Cup.
“We know that to win another World Cup, you have to eliminate other national sides like Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and for this it is very complicated.
“With this I say that, if we were to progress and then one day we have to meet one of them, I am convinced that they too will have their headaches and will not be happy to meet us.
“In short, we shall see…”
Buffon, who also considered Antonio Conte’s influence at Juventus, reflected on his season at club level and from a personal viewpoint.
“I think that from October, so after Florence, it has been a great season, full of satisfaction for the team, but also personally, because I think I have been at a consistent performance level.
“In all this I think I have some of the credit, because in the end I am 36 and after a start in which I could have been criticised, I wanted to sweep away all doubt in the best way, the most suitable way.
“That is, once again demonstrating, if there was any need, my worth and what I can do.”