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World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Italy better than 25/1

| 14.06.2014

Past tournaments: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954,1958, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010

Previous Best: Winners – Italy 1934, France 1938, Spain 1982 and Germany 2006.

How they got here: Cesare Prandelli’s men cruised to qualification for Brazil without losing a game despite having the likes of Denmark and Czech Republic as company. However, two sloppy draws in their final matches denied them a pot 1 final seeding which could come back to haunt them as they try to navigate their way through a group with Uruguay and England.

Star man: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

The evergreen 35-year-old needs little introduction to England fans after being tormentor-in-chief for their last meaningful meeting at Euro 2012. The Serie A legend ran the show on that night in Kiev, his virtuoso performance culminating in an infuriatingly brilliant chipped spot kick in the shootout. With 490 appearances in his own league plus a mere 108 for the senior national team there’s arguably no-one in the tournament better equipped to help their country succeed.

Here’s a reminder of that kick…

Under the radar: Ciro Immobile (Torino)

The 24-year-old has timed his form perfectly for Brazil and looks certain to be in the main 23 after being selected for the 30-man squad. The striker, who is part owned by Juventus, finished top scorer in Serie A with 22 goals and is currently courting interest from the biggest clubs in Europe including Catalan giants Barcelona. England fans could be forgiven for hoping Prandelli leaves this guy at home. Check-out what could be in store…

Team Nutcase: Mario Balotelli (A.C.Milan)

You know a player is one to keep an eye on when the media can make up the most unbelievable stories about them and everyone just assumes they are fact. In his time at Manchester the controversial striker took up more newspaper inches than the whole of his own team put together and in a side brimming with ‘personality’ he comfortably sets himself apart as the answer here. Although undoubtedly blessed with much ability he’s arguably more of a liability than an attribute, especially in a cauldron like the World Cup.

Click here for a list of some of his off-pitch highlights.

How will they get on?

Their comfortable qualification, superior head-to-head record and World Cup pedigree entitles them to be favourites to win the group and it would be surprising if they were the one out of the three of Uruguay and England to miss out. With a potentially straightforward task in the round of 16 awaiting the momentum could once again be with the four-time winners, however, this is one of the weakest Azzurri teams we have seen for some time and a quarter-final finish would have to be considered a good result especially considering they are set to meet defending champions Spain if the formbook holds.

To win the World Cup: 25/1

Best World Cup Bet: Ciro Immobile to be top team goalscorer @ 6/1

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster