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Wise but not weary, Italy are keen to prove critics wrong

| 10.06.2010

Marcelo Lippi insists that his Italy team is not too old to win the World Cup, and statistical evidence supports the World Cup winning coach’s claims.

The average age of Italy’s squad is 28.2, which is in fact lower than Australia (28.4), Brazil (28.6) and England (28.7).

It is Fabio Capello’s side who have the oldest squad in South Africa, while Ghana have the youngest with an average age of 24.1.

Lippi is confident that he has the necessary mix of youth and experience, and as reigning champions, it is hardly surprising that Italy have decided against making wholesale changes to a winning formula.

New faces such as Sampdoria forward Giampaolo Pazzini will be interspersed with the more familiar likes of midfielder Andrea Pirlo and striker Alberto Gilardino, who is 11/4 to be their top scorer.

The oldest member of the squad, 36-year-old captain Fabio Cannavaro, has faced criticism lately, though his waning pace will be compensated by the younger and very impressive Giorgio Chiellini.

Italy have kept three clean sheets in their last five games, and Juventus defender Chiellini is an increasingly important figure at the back.

His Juventus team-mate Claudio Marchisio, 24, is also making an impact in midfield, an area where the Azzurri are expected to excel with Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Daniele De Rossi.

With Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand for company, Italy are clear favourites to win Group F at 1/2, and they are intent of going beyond the second round.

World Cup favourites Spain are, however, their likely quarter-final opponents and Italy could be knocked out by the same opponents who eliminated them from Euro 2008. Italy are 15/8 to exit at the quarter-finals.

Do you think Italy can make their critics eat humble pie? They are 16/1 to win the World Cup. See the full Tournament Winner market.



Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.