Recaps and game analysis to follow one or two hours after each match.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Group F: Italy

Italy are the current defending champions of the World Cup, having beaten France on penalty kicks in 2006, and although many of the same players are returning, this is not the same team as four years ago.

Marcello Lippi [coach] has been adamant about holding onto to his winning players, a result that has created an aging squad. Gianluigi Buffon [pictured] may still be one of the top goalkeepers in the world, but other players such as Zambrotta and Cannavaro have lost much of their form from the past.  If Lippi takes the chance to play a lot of the younger up and coming players, then the Azzurri could go all the way, pulling off a fantastic repeat. Otherwise I could easily see the team crashing out early if they are not careful, and do not maintain their fitness levels.

The Italian team is known for playing their soccer in the same manner that their league does, slow and calculating. Playing possession until an opportunity presents itself is what the Italians do best as it has been known to frustrate others. Marching through their qualification group, a run which saw the Republic of Ireland as their toughest competition, the Azzurri are lucky to have been drawn into a rather easy World Cup group. Italy vs Paraguay will be the match to watch as both teams will be competing for the top spot going into the second round.

Key Players: Buffon has already been mentioned as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but the Italians have another ace up their sleeve in Daniel de Rossi. The Roma defender is the epitome of a work horse and will keep fighting until the final whistle. Although I do mean fighting literally, as he has a tendency to get booked regularly. If he can stay out of the Referees pocket then the Roma man will easily hold the middle against most teams.

My Prediction: Quarter-finals.

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