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.
Juventus, Goalkeeper, 36
Caps [goals]: 139 
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.
Paris Saint-Germain, Goalkeeper, 27
Caps [goals]: 8 
Showed with his performance against Republic of Ireland that he is a worthy understudy to Buffon. Occasionally mistake prone, but largely very reliable.
Genoa, Goalkeeper, 21
Caps [goals]: 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.
Juventus, Defender, 29
Caps [goals]: 67 
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.
Juventus, Defender, 33
Caps [goals]: 47 
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.
Milan, Defender, 27
Caps [goals]: 19 
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 
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.
Parma, Defender, 28
Caps [goals]: 2 
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.
Juventus, Defender, 27
Caps [goals]: 36 
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.
Torino, Defender, 24
Caps [goals]: 1 
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.
Juventus, Midfielder, 35
Caps [goals]: 108 
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 
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.
Juventus, Midfielder, 28
Caps [goals]: 43 
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.
Fiorentina, Midfielder, 29
Caps [goals]: 34 
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.
Paris Saint-Germain, Midfielder, 31
Caps [goals]: 20 
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.
Lazio, Midfielder, 27
Caps [goals]: 19 
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.
Paris Saint-Germain, Midfielder, 21
Caps [goals]: 5 
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.
Parma, Midfielder, 29
Caps [goals]: 3 
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.
Parma, Forward, 31
Caps [goals]: 36 
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.
Milan, Forward, 23
Caps [goals]: 29 
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.
Torino, Forward, 26
Caps [goals]: 11 
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.
Napoli, Forward, 23
Caps [goals]: 4 
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.
Torino, Forward, 24
Caps [goals]: 2 
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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