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Monday June 2 2014
Italy’s World Cup 23

Luca Persico runs through Cesare Prandelli’s 23-man squad selected to represent Italy at the 2014 World Cup.

Sunday evening saw Cesare Prandelli list his 23 players to go to Brazil later this month. The loss of Riccardo Montolivo to injury will likely have effected his plans, while the omission of Giuseppe Rossi and Mattia Destro - two of Italy’s most natural finishers - was a surprise.

The tactician has consistently stated that fitness will be key, while he has favoured pace and versatility in his selections and included the likes of uncapped Mattia Perin, Matteo Darmian, Argentina-born Gabriel Paletta and the maverick Antonio Cassano.

Gianluigi Buffon

Juventus, Goalkeeper, 36

Caps [goals]: 139 [0]

Buffon kept 25 clean sheets in all competitions for Juventus this season. The veteran still remains one of the world’s very top goalkeepers and is a captain who leads by example.

Salvatore Sirigu

Paris Saint-Germain, Goalkeeper, 27

Caps [goals]: 8 [0]

Showed with his performance against Republic of Ireland that he is a worthy understudy to Buffon. Occasionally mistake prone, but largely very reliable.

Mattia Perin

Genoa, Goalkeeper, 21

Caps [goals]: 0 [0]

This time last year Perin was snubbed for a place in the Italy U-21 squad going to the European Championships, but a strong season at Genoa has highlighted his potential and he is selected to gain experience.

Giorgio Chiellini

Juventus, Defender, 29

Caps [goals]: 67 [4]

Arguably, Italy’s only genuinely world class defender, Chiellini is robust and dependable, while his ability to play at left full-back is likely why Manuel Pasqual missed out. He scored an important goal against Czech Republic in qualifying.

Andrea Barzagli

Juventus, Defender, 33

Caps [goals]: 47 [0]

Strong, powerful and very commanding at his best. Made a poor mistake against Mexico at the Confederations Cup, but usually impeccable. A World Cup winner in 2006, he will likely start alongside Chiellini.

Ignazio Abate

Milan, Defender, 27

Caps [goals]: 19 [1]

Only managed 16 Serie A starts for Milan this season, but a player Prandelli trusts. His pace and strong running going forward are his biggest weapon, though he can be mistake prone.

Mattia De Sciglio

Milan, Defender, 21

Caps [goals]: 10 [0]

Likely to be Italy’s first choice left full-back, despite being right-footed, when Prandelli uses a back four. He performed a similar role impressively at the Confederations Cup, but there are concerns over his fitness and lack of experience.

Gabriel Paletta

Parma, Defender, 28

Caps [goals]: 2 [0]

An outstanding campaign at Parma and a strong international debut against Spain earned the Argentina-born defender a call up. Paletta is very good in possession, but can mistakes and, like Leonardo Bonucci, is arguably best in a back three.

Leonardo Bonucci

Juventus, Defender, 27

Caps [goals]: 36 [2]

He was fairly poor in the warm up game against Republic of Ireland and can often be caught out when in a two rather than a back three. Bonucci is, however, excellent on the ball, a strong leader and a threat from set-pieces.

Matteo Darmian

Torino, Defender, 24

Caps [goals]: 1 [0]

Darmian is, perhaps, Prandelli’s most surprising inclusion. His ability to play full-back or wing-back on both sides is invaluable, while he is arguably more consistent than Abate. His lack of top level experience is a concern.

Andrea Pirlo

Juventus, Midfielder, 35

Caps [goals]: 108 [13]

Pirlo remains the puppet-master of this Italy side. The veteran has had another stellar campaign at Juventus, where he scored more free-kicks than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. Pirlo will retire after the tournament and he will be key to how far Italy can progress.

Daniele De Rossi

Roma, Midfielder, 30

Caps [goals]: 94 [15]

Back to his very best with the help of Rudi Garcia at Roma this season. De Rossi is excellent in possession, but is also a battler. He was part of the 2006 World Cup winning squad, but received a four match ban at the tournament for elbowing Brian McBride.

Claudio Marchisio

Juventus, Midfielder, 28

Caps [goals]: 43 [2]

Marchisio has had a tough season at Juventus, but ended the campaign in good form and was one of the better performers against Republic of Ireland. With the loss of Riccardo Montolivo, he should feature more prominently. Needs to score more.

Alberto Aquilani

Fiorentina, Midfielder, 29

Caps [goals]: 34 [5]

Likely selected as a replacement for Montolivo, Aquilani has much to prove. He gave a good showing against Spain at Euro 2008, but too often fails to grasp a game and impose himself.

Thiago Motta

Paris Saint-Germain, Midfielder, 31

Caps [goals]: 20 [1]

Moves at his own pace, but can be very important to Italy. Motta played an under-rated role at Euro 2012 and could be key once more after finding fitness and form at PSG.

Antonio Candreva

Lazio, Midfielder, 27

Caps [goals]: 19 [0]

His pace, directness and seemingly boundless energy will be exploited fully by Prandelli. He showed against Spain at the Confederations Cup how valuable he can be, whilst he’s also capable of spectacular goals and is a very competent penalty taker.

Marco Verratti

Paris Saint-Germain, Midfielder, 21

Caps [goals]: 5 [1]

Despite an outstanding season at PSG, Verratti was not guaranteed a place. The youngster is very talented, but can sometimes be frustrating and lack maturity. He was, however, instrumental in helping the Azzurrini get to the European Under-21 Championship Final last summer.

Marco Parolo

Parma, Midfielder, 29

Caps [goals]: 3 [0]

Eight goals and six assists in 36 appearances for Parma have earned Parolo his place. Like Aquilani, he will be benefit from Montolivo’s unfortunate absence and could well surprise, as Stefano Fiore did at Euro 2000.

Antonio Cassano

Parma, Forward, 31

Caps [goals]: 36 [10]

The maverick has been rewarded for knuckling down and rediscovering his best form at Parma this season. Cassano’s cameo against Republic of Ireland showed that he is still arguably Italy’s best support striker, while his partnership with Mario Balotelli at Euro 2012 was excellent.

Mario Balotelli

Milan, Forward, 23

Caps [goals]: 29 [12]

With Giuseppe Rossi out, the onus will be on Balotelli to lead the line. He's had a tough season at Milan, but still managed 14 goals and has often given his best for Italy. Balotelli is adored by the Brazilian fans and their support may bring the best out of him.

Alessio Cerci

Torino, Forward, 26

Caps [goals]: 11 [0]

Cerci managed 13 goals and 10 assists for Torino in a remarkable campaign. The winger, who can also play as a striker, will be a useful impact substitute for Prandelli and he now needs to show he can replicate his club form at a higher level.

Lorenzo Insigne

Napoli, Forward, 23

Caps [goals]: 4 [1]

Perhaps a surprise inclusion, but Insigne could be Italy’s joker. He showed in the Coppa Italia Final that he can perform on the big occasions and fits into a variety of systems. He scored the winner for the Azzurrini against England at the U-21 European Championships.

Ciro Immobile

Torino, Forward, 24

Caps [goals]: 2 [0]

Immobile’s 22 goals earned him the Serie A Capocannoniere crown, but he still has much to prove at the highest level. Whether he can be a suitable replacement for Balotelli remains to be seen, but Immobile certainly has the talent and could not be in better form.

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
I Believe The Starting 11 against England Should Be

1. Gigi Buffon

2.Abate 5.Barzagli/Paletta 4.Chiellini 3.De Sciglio



7. De Rossi 6. Pirlo 8. Motta


10. Insigne/Candreva


9. Balotelli 11. Cassano

With Such a team i believe England we definitely starve off the ball and eventually we'll beat them not no matter what happen. Forza Azzuri!
on the 9th June, 2014 at 2:46pm
I Know guys will be saying we took Totti to the 2006 WC not 100% fit but then, he delivered and scored one of the most crucial goal for the Azzurri. We are Italians and we can't copy styles of other nations just bcuz they are taking an injured player to a big occassion like the WC. Am solidly behind CP's judgement in selecting Italy's 23 man squad for the WC. He has showed in the past that only players that are worthy of call ups to the national team rigthfully get the nod.
on the 9th June, 2014 at 2:29pm
I Know guys will be saying we took Totti not 100% fit and then he delivered and scored one of the most wcrucial goal for the Azzurri. We are Italians and we can't copy the styles of other teams just bcuz they are taking an injured player to a big occassion as the world cup. Am solidly behind CP's judgement of Italy's 23 man squad. He has showed in the past that only players that are worthy of call ups to the national team rigthfully get the nod.
on the 9th June, 2014 at 2:13pm
Don't u guys remember what happened in the 2002 World cup in Japan? France took an Injured Zinedine Zidane to the tournament only to have them trashed by Uruguay 3-1 on the final match before crushing out of the world Cup.
I personally totally agree with CP for not taking players who are not 100% fit to the world cup cuz, if the needs arise for them to show up their talent on the big games when they are not 100% fit then it will definitely be a big blow to the whole team.
on the 9th June, 2014 at 1:58pm
4-1-3-2

Buffon

Abate - Barzagli - Chiellini - DeSciglio

DeRossi

Marchisio -Pirlo- Verratti

Balotelli-Cassano
on the 8th June, 2014 at 2:10am
This squad is reminiscent of the 82 squad, obviously not on skill or talent levels individually but it has an interesting dynamic to it. The preparation has been thorough and even if we are not favourites (when are we ever?) it may be just our type of thing to rock up and wreck the pretty (boring!) party that Brazil and Spain have planned.
on the 6th June, 2014 at 2:06pm
am really disappointed with two of azzuri best strikers being left out (rossi/elshaarawi) but again you cant blame prandelli, both had a long injury. as for aquilani, poli/Giaccherini are far better choices
on the 4th June, 2014 at 8:28am
Bonucci? Remember the first goal Benfica scored on Juve. The guy was asleep in one of the biggest games of his career. He'll do the same in Brazil.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 7:24pm
...Furthermore, Rossi has never really played in a major tournament so he also lacks experience. Yes he is a good player, but we have never seen him in elite competitions. Consequently calling him not fully fit would have been a double gamble. I'm more concerned that Destro has not been called. He had a great season with Roma, and should have been included. As for the wide man such as Cerci and Candreva they have never really impressed me but Prandelli seems to love them.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 10:34am
I agree with everyone that Aquilani is a waste of space. I would have opted for Giach, because he can play anywhere and will be a good sub. Besides despite his technical limits he always gives his all for Italy. That aside, Florenzi and Romulo are certainly better than Aquilani. Where I agree with Prandelli and disagree with everyone else, is that I think he was right in not calling Rossi. He has always been an injury prone player, and taking him not fit would have been a big gamble...
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 10:30am
Everyone realizes Rossi's talent, having played in only 2 games at the end the of the season, after being hurt is tough for anyone to come back and be ready for the world cup, nobody here has seen him training accept Prandelli and he knows if he was at running below 100% or not, the media was quick to point out he had trouble with movement while training, Romullo suspected injury as well and opens up space for the guys like Aquiliani, the midfield needs to be stocked with Prandelli's formations
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 9:04am
Re defence, the reality is that it hasn't been good since 2006 which is a real shame for the Azzurri. I agree with Giulio AZZURRO comment..Bonucci is a total liability, particularly in a back-four system..one of Ranocchia or Ogbonna is more deserving. Meanwhile, Paletta is quality and a warrior and he should partner either Chilleni or Barzagli, the former can slot in at left back if needed. I am not a fan of 3-man defence except if playing Spain..De Rossi belongs to the midfield. Forza Azzurri.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 7:34am
mez, You seem to be harsh on Aquilan. The player has goo vision and pass the ball wisely. He dcores 13 goals in serie a in the pasd two seasons. He had better season than Marchisio and Montolivo. He is a key player for fiorentina. He also outshone Marchisio during his time at Juventus.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 1:57am
I think this is a good squad, all the right players have been selected. Monty would have surely gone in aquilani's place had he not got injured. Perhaps were overloaded in central midfield. I was at craven cottage on sat and for me rossi didnt look sharp, cassano made and instant impact when and verratti looked class.Still unsure about cerci at international level. Not to disappointed about rossi, its not as if were leaving robbie baggio at home. Insigne is more creative & versatile in any case.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 8:09pm
After watching the ROI match I can understand the not including Rossi. I don't agree with it as I feel he could have improved with fitness but only CP, Rossi and medical staff can really assess the true fitness. No one has a good word to say about Aquilani but coaches do seem to like him. Monti is a great lose. The rest of the squad really picked itself ans I am sure if most people picked the starting 11 most would have 8-9 players the same.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 6:24pm
BAD MISTAKE. NO ROSSI OR DESTRO WILL HURT THE AZZURI.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 5:52pm
2010: Lippi stated, in hindsight, his biggest mistake was excluding Rossi. 2014: Prandelli will say samething once all said and done. Not sure I like Prandelli and his lack of consistent formations (see Euro 2012) and think he's riding Pirlo coattail since appointment.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 5:36pm
4-1-4-1, when in defense:

Buffon

Darmian-Barzagli-Chiellini-DeSciglio

DeRossi

Cerci-Pirlo-Verratti-Insigne

Balotelli
_________________________________________________

3-4-3, when attacking

Buffon

Barzagli-DeRossi-Chiellini

Darmian-Pirlo-Verratti-DeSciglio

Cerci-Balotelli-Insigne

That's how we gonna play and stun the world ;o))
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 4:56pm
Aquilani???? a very very poor choice. Hope he proves his critics wrong. Aquilani is at best a mediocre player with little to no vision, portechncial ability and terrible reader of the game...
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 3:22pm
I was a big Prandelli fan BUT he just screwed up! Leaving out Rossi and Destro is a big mistake. Cassano is not the answer and Ballo cannot do it all. He needed a Rossi or Destro to feed him and work with him up front. What a msitake Pandelli.... I hope you prove me wrong!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 3:11pm
I was a big Prandelli fan BUT he just screwed up! Leaving out Rossi and Destro is a big mistake. Cassano is not the answer and Ballo cannot do it all. He needed a Rossi or Destro to feed him and work with him up front. What a msitake Pandelli.... I hope you prove me wrong!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 3:10pm
I was a big Prandelli fan BUT he just screwed up! Leaving out Rossi and Destro is a big mistake. Cassano is not the answer and Ballo cannot do it all. He needed a Rossi or Destro to feed him and work with him up front. What a msitake Pandelli.... I hope you prove me wrong!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 3:09pm
I was a big Prandelli fan BUT he just screwed up! Leaving out Rossi and Destro is a big mistake. Cassano is not the answer and Ballo cannot do it all. He needed a Rossi or Destro to feed him and work with him up front. What a msitake Pandelli.... I hope you prove me wrong!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 3:08pm
Think this squad is strong that CP has selected like most people bit supprised that aquilani was selected i think Italy should have chose Rossi even an unfit rossi would be better than aquilani! and also was supprised that Juventus defender angelo ogbonna wasnt even considered as he is a strong defender.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 2:46pm
Very happy too see no Gilardino/Osvaldo as that seemed likely at one stage. Although Montolivo had a weak season, never thought his injury would open up a space to Aquilani. Now seems a shame that Florenzi or Giaccherini were not in the 30 squad as prandelli would have probably picked either over Aquilani in the 23 but both Romulo and Montolivo getting injured was never in his mind. We should be very happy there is Verratti, Immobile and Insigne as it seemed unlikely they would all be called!!!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 2:45pm
Guys, stop criticizing Aquilani. He always performed better for La Nazionale than Marchisio does. Moreover, he scores more goals than Motta, Montolivo, and Marchisio. He has been playing well for fiorentina over the past two seasons. He cannot or should not be overlooked.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 2:05pm
We must not forget that Chiellini is very strong at left back should the need arise, and either Abate, De Sciglio, or Darmian on the right... Paletta and Barzagli in central defence. Bonucci makes far too many mistakes!!!

Aquilani? SERIOUSLY??? He disappears during games, I would not rate him in the top 15 midfielders we have to choose from? To leave Rossi at home is a total injustice!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 2:04pm
it bothers me that destro was left home. i think prandelli could of found room for him for he would be very useful to the azzurri in brazil. unless there were fitness issues we are not aware of. he only came back in january from a very very long lay off. is 6 months enough to gain optimum form and fitness? only the ones in the camp really know the state/conditions of the 30 players. 13 goals in serie a in 19 matches is a good case made.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:57pm
DMaster: "Italy has a long history of treating their best players poorly."Indeed. It's the only big team to behave this way. Politics, ego, grudges ruined the '02 and '10. I don't buy for a second fitness played a part in Rossi. By the end of June, he'll be 100%. Even still, he can give you more minutes than Casano. Other teams have no problem trusting in quality. Costa, Suarez, Vidal, Khedira (prob falcao)all unquestionably made their teams despite injury/fitness. Only Italy thinks its smarter
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:45pm
Absolutely ridiculous not to call Rossi! Typical Italian coaching ego-maniac to create a controversy before the WC. Forget the fact Rossi is our best natural goal scorer. But what floors me is how he was left off while bringing BOTH aqui and Parolo. The former is absolutely useless (in fact he hurts the team when on the field). If he was so desperate for Isigne, then bring him as a wide mid in place of Aqui who gives this team NOTHING!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:27pm

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