CAN ITALY EQUAL BRAZIL WORD CUP RECORD?
By: Sihle Ndebele
If Italy win this year’s World Cup, they will equal Brazil’s record of having lifted the trophy five times.
Italy veteran goalkeeper Gianluige Buffon recently downplayed suggestions that their main goal was to equal Brazil’s World Cup record, but instead claimed that their goal is to reach the quarter–finals.
“I can’t say with absolute certainty that we will reach the final or the semi-finals,” Buffon was quoted as saying on the FIFA website.
The experienced Juventus goalie acknowledges that his side must overcome some very good teams if they are to win the competition for the record fifth time.
“We have to be honest and recognise the value other rivals. When you talk about Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Germany, they all are step ahead of us and hence are favourites. We are behind them alongside France,” Buffon said.
Cesare Prandelli’s men are in group D alongside with England, Uruguay and the underdogs Costa Rica.
The Azzuri is the second team to have won many World Cups with four titles the first one in 1934, 1938, and 1982 and most famously in 2006 when they beat France on penalties in Germany.
Mario Balotelli will again be expected to spearhead Italy’s attack in this year’s showpiece. Their midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo will be playing his last World Cup and he is expected to produce some magical displays.
Prandelli’s charges are unique among the 32 nations heading for Brazil as non of the players are playing in the English Premier League
The Azzuri will kick off their World Cup campaign against England on 14June in Manaus.
Goalkeepers: Buffon (Juventus), Perin (Genoa), Sirigu (Paris St. Germain);
Defenders: Abate (Milan), Barzagli (Juventus), Bonucci (Juventus), Chiellini (Juventus), Darmian (Torino), De Sciglio (Milan), Paletta (Parma);
Midfielders: Aquilani (Fiorentina), Candreva (Lazio), De Rossi (Roma), Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris St. Germain), Parolo (Parma), Pirlo (Juventus), Verratti (Paris St. Germain);
Forwards: Balotelli (Milan), Cassano (Parma), Cerci (Torino), Immobile (Torino), Insigne (Napoli).