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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.

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Have your say...
I was happy with the squad except for, yep, you guessed it, Aquilani and Motta. They both had shockers against Ireland, losing the ball in key positions constantly. Ok, Motta I can almost understand, defensive and can protect the back four, but Aquilani is, for me, just a spare part. I hope he proves me wrong. As for the rest, it's looking good and I agree with Luca, Insigne could be the bright spark Italy need to progress. PS Cassano is just quality.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:59pm
I find the squad very strange.I understand that Italy are looking to be very flexible and can deploy a 4-3-1-2,3-5-2,or 4-3-3 but each formation change requires a change in at least 5 players so it's hard to build rhythm and chemistry if the starting XI keeps changing.I'm not very optimistic but Italy always manage to pull a surprise.I hope De Sciglio,Veratti,Immobile,and Balo have a good tournament coz they are the future.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:55pm
How could he leave Rossi at home due to fitness but bring other players who aren't 100%, boggles the mind. Italy has a long history of treating their best players poorly. The national team coaches have inflated egos and think they are more important than their star players.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:36pm
I'd rather have seen Rossi or Destro there instead of Aquilani - even a 70% fit Romolu.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 1:20pm
I like the squad. I'm saddend for Montolivo, a good player, however it was time to use other options such as Verratti. I'm annoyed at Aquilani's inclusion, a massive waste of space & Florenzi should have had his spot, even Diamanti! I'm gutted for Rossi, but I can't moan with Insigne's inclusion, he could be our secret weapon in Brazil.

This is an exciting young and diverse squad I think. I'm also glad Prandelli had the balls to do what Lippi should have done in 2010 and build for the future.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 12:43pm
Mid: Motta is big game player but CP must not use all subs while he is still on the pitch as anything can happen with him! Acquilani can consider himself lucky, needs to raise his game as a last chance.
Attack: glad for ex-maverick Cassano, he is mature now. Balo is different player for Azzurri so justified. Insigne deserves selection n can be a joker. Still have doubts about Immobile n esp Cerci, just one of the two not both. If experience wasn't an obstacle then Berrardi wud b worth the risk!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 12:40pm
What is the need to play friendlies agaisnt physical teams like Rep. of Ireland just few days before the World Cup starts. We lost important player like Riccardo Montolivo !! Instead in future U should play agaisnt Under 23 squad or a Special 11 of domestic players !!!
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 12:30pm
In goal: no arguments.
Defence: Paletta is great, he deserves it as does Abate. Bonucci is a donkey, should never start, Rannochia would been better in his place. Darmian and DeSceglio lack experience so only one of the two should start, Santon offers more guarantees.
Midfield: Candreva is great but underrated just like Giaccherini..glad Diamanti was out of contention. Verratti, he just needs the right instructions, the little magician is Barca material.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 12:28pm
It's a good, young squad with an average age of barely over 26 and it shows Prandelli is at least not afraid to pick youth, unlike many Italian coaches.

But the exclusion of Rossi over Aquilani is madness. Why does he need 8 midfielders? We may see a central midfielder playing behind the front 2(ala Montolivo), which seems bizarre as Rossi, Cassano or even Insigne could play there.

Full-back may be a problem too if the injuries pile up. Still, plenty to look forward too, with QF/SF realistic.
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 12:07pm
Excellent squad with the obvious and ridiculous ommision of Rossi. Do we really need Aquilani and or Parolo? surely there is enough quality in the middle? Are ether going to come on and get us a goal?

Forza Azzurri
on the 2nd June, 2014 at 10:59am

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